Claiming compensation for slips, trips or falls
Slips, trips or falls in a public place can happen in a variety of scenarios: you could slip on spillages in a shop which did not have warning signs in place; trip over a badly maintained pavement; or fall over on a road due to icy conditions or unfilled potholes.
Such accidents can sometimes cause only hurt pride and minor injuries, but sometimes they can have serious consequences, leaving you badly injured and unable to work.
Businesses and local councils have a legal duty to follow health and safety laws which aim to keep you and other members of the public safe. This includes, for example, carrying out detailed risk assessments, clearly highlighting wet floors, and fixing cracked or potholed pavements and roads within a reasonable timeframe.
If you have suffered mentally, physically and/ or financially as a result of someone else’s negligence, you have every right to being a public liability claim for compensation.
How do I prove negligence?
To successfully bring a compensation claim for a slip, trip or fall in a public place, you need to show that the person or body responsible for your injuries was negligent. This requires you to prove that they owed you a duty of care, that they breached that duty and that you were injured as a result.
When assessing whether or not someone was negligent, the court will decide whether their actions failed the standard of what the ‘reasonable man’ or the famous ‘man on the Clapham omnibus’ would do in the same situation.
Who do I sue?
To be able to make a claim you first need to find out who was responsible for maintaining the area where your accident happened. Often this will be the local council, but it could also be the Highways Authority, the Waterways Board, or a private land owner.
Business owners and highway authorities are required to take out public liability insurance, so if you suffer an injury because of someone else’s negligence, the insurance company will pay out if your claim is successful.
What is the procedure for bringing a claim?
Unless your case is particularly complicated or of very high value, your compensation claim will usually be dealt with by your solicitor under the rules of the personal injury Pre-action Protocol which governs the type of claim you are bringing. This will usually be the Pre-Action Protocol for Low Value Personal Injury (Employers’ Liability and Public Liability) Claims for a slip, trip or fall in a public place.
The protocols set time limits and strict standards of how a case is dealt with before formal court proceedings are issued. They require the early exchange of information and aim to encourage parties to settle their dispute using an alternative dispute resolution method without the matter going to court. If you unreasonably fail to follow the pre-action protocol, you could face costs implications.
What are time limits for bringing a claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, you usually have three years from the date of your accident or from when you become aware of the seriousness of your injuries (whichever comes later) to make a compensation claim. However, if you are claiming on behalf of a child or someone who is mentally incapacitated this ‘limitation period’ runs, respectively, from the date they turn 18 or when they regain mental capacity.
How can I pay for my claim?
A specialist personal injury lawyer will be able to quickly assess whether or not you have a valid compensation claim. If you do, they may agree to represent you on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This means your solicitor will only get paid by you if you win the case. This ‘success fee’ will be an agreed – usually relatively small – percentage of your final compensation package. If you lose the case, you won’t have to pay anything.
How can a solicitor help?
If you want to bring a compensation claim for a slip, trip or fall in a public place, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, while events are still fresh in your mind and in those of potential witnesses.
Your solicitor will help you prepare your claim, gathering the evidence you need to bring your case to a successful conclusion. Evidence you can gather at the scene of the accident or afterwards to help strengthen your cases includes:
- a written account of how, when and where your accident happened;
- photographs or sketches of the scene;
- photographs of your injuries;
- CCTV footage of the incident;
- names and contact details of anyone who witnessed the accident.
- details of any police report;
- an account of any expenses you incur because of your injury, such as lost wages because you had to take time off work to recover;
- a written account of how your injuries have affected your mental, physical and financial state;
- details of any medical treatment you had following the accident.
Your solicitor will refer you to a medical expert who will assess how your injuries were sustained and the effect that they have had on your life, work hard to negotiate you a just out-of-court settlement, or be by your side if your case has to go to court.
They can help secure you the rehabilitation treatment you need, obtain you interim payments to cover your living expenses as you wait for your final compensation package to come through, and advise you on investing your compensation money..
How much compensation will I receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will be depends the seriousness of your injury, your prognosis, and how your injury has affected your life, but could include damages for:
- pain and suffering;
- loss of earnings;
- additional medical treatment or rehabilitation;
- out-of-pocket expenses;
- adaptations required to your home.