Public Liability Claims
Claims for injuries in public places
If you slip or fall in a shop, a pubic pavement or a road, you may be able to claim compensation for any injuries suffered. You will need to be able to show that the organisation that was responsible for your safety was at fault. The responsibility might lie with a Local Authority or the owner of a shop.
How do I know if I am entitled to be compensated?
You have to be able to demonstrate that an organisation or individual was at fault for what happened. The fact that you have been injured is probably not going to be in dispute. What might be disputed is whether or not the landowner was responsible for what happened.
You have to be able to show that the landowner was aware of the defect that caused the injury and did not take reasonable steps to prevent that from happening.
The Courts view is that a Local Authority cannot reasonably be expected to make sure that every inch of pavement and roadway is in perfect condition at all times. That would be financially and practically impossible for a Local Authority to do. However, what the Court does expect is that the Local Authority has a reasonable system of inspection and repair in place. If the Local Authority does not have the finances to make sure that roads are repaired, that is not your problem. If a defect on a pavement or a roadway has been left for too long when it should have been repaired by the Local Authority, then, depending on the size of the defect, the Local Authority is likely to be held responsible.
What information do I need to provide?
It is important that you take photographs of the area that you fell as soon as possible after the accident has taken place. Ideally, photographs with a tape measure showing the length and depth of the hole/defect would help. If any of the people who live in the area are able to comment on how long the defect has been present, that would serve as evidence to strengthen your case. If those people have notified the Local Authority either by a phone call or in writing, that would also serve as very useful evidence.
How do I bring a claim?
We will take all of the relevant details from you and then contact the landowner to ask them for details of their public liability insurance. If the likely value of the claim is below £25,000, we then lodge notification of the claim on an online portal. The insurers then have 20 working days to make investigations and respond. If the insurers accept liability, we will then make arrangements for you to be medically examined and a copy of the medical report will be submitted to the insurers on the same online portal. At the same time as sending the medical report, we advise the insurers of how much compensation we think that you should be awarded. If the insurers respond with a fair offer, we will most likely advise you to accept. If the offer is unreasonable, we will ask the insurers to make an interim payment (for a figure which if their “best offer”) and then issue Court proceedings to ask the Court to assess the level of damages that should be awarded. If we do have to issue proceedings, it is just a paper exercise and you do not need to attend at Court.
What if liability is disputed?
If the insurer does not respond within 20 working days, the case drops out of the online portal system and the insurer becomes entitled to a 3 -month period to investigate further.
If ultimately the insurer disputes that the landowner is liable for the accident, then as long as we are satisfied that you have a strong case, we will issue Court proceedings against the landowner
Before proceedings are issued, we have to be sure that you have the approval of your legal expense insurer. We do this to make sure that you have protection from any potential costs orders that might be made.