Accident in a Public Place

Whether you have an accident in the park, a supermarket or grounds owned by a local council it is likely that someone will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of that area if it is in a public place. For example, if a slippery floor in a supermarket is not cleaned or appropriately cordoned off and someone slips then the supermarket will have acted negligently. Similarly, if you are running in a park owned by the local council and trip on a pothole or a defect on the path and suffer injury then the council will have been negligent.

There are a variety of factors which may cause a trip, slip or fall in a public place. The party responsible for the area where the accident happened owe a duty of care to the public which includes:

1. A duty to inspect, maintain and repair their property;

2. A duty to provide a safe means of access and egress;

3. A duty to provide an adequately safe environment for pedestrians/patrons;

4. A duty to ensure that appropriate lighting condition are in place;

5. A duty to ensure that visitors to their premises are protected from personal injury, loss and damage.

Failure to discharge these duties can lead to pedestrians or visitors to a particular premises sustaining personal injury by way of slipping, falling and tripping for example. Such accidents can cause a great deal of pain and stress for those involved.

What Steps Can I Take?

Our advice to those who are involved in an accident in a public place is to firstly seek medical attention if they are hurt, looking after your own health should always take priority. You should then seek to find out the cause of your accident. For example, there may have been a defect on a path that you were walking on that has caused you to trip.

If you are able to identify a defect or other accident cause, then you should take photographs of it immediately or soon after the accident. If the defect is a pothole measurements should also be taken. You should also make a note of any witnesses to the accident and their details. Lastly, you should seek to find out who owns the premises where the accident happened. Sometimes this will be obvious but as many details as possible should be recorded, nonetheless.

How We Can Help

If you have been injured as a result of a defect or poor maintenance in a public place you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. When you contact our expert personal injury solicitors, they will walk you through the claims process step by step. The claims process can vary but will usually adopt the following format:

1. Free Initial Consultation
– You can meet with one of our personal injury solicitors free of charge so that we can take instructions on your case and advise you on your claim. We will ask you to provide us with the details you recorded at the accident scene as well as any photographs. If you do not know the owner of the premises where the accident occurred you should provide our solicitors with an address and they will try to find this out for you.

2. Letter of claim – Your solicitor will then send a letter to the owner of the premises outlining the circumstances of the accident as per your instructions and highlighting the negligence that is being alleged. The owner of the premises is then obliged to pass this letter on to their insurance company.

3. Engineers Inspection – Your solicitor will instruct an engineer to examine the location of the accident. The engineer will then provide a report on his findings which will usually detail whether the area was appropriately maintained and whether or not it represented a safe environment for the public.

4. Medical Evidence – If you have been to the hospital or your GP we will obtain those notes and then arrange an appointment with a specialist medical consultant to provide a report on your injuries. In some cases, you may need to see more than one specialist if you have sustained numerous injuries.

5. Decision on liability – The third-party insurance company should then provide their decision on liability about three months after our initial letter of claim is sent. If they admit that their insured was liable for our clients injury then we will enter in to settlement negotiations and try to recover an appropriate amount of damages for the loss you have suffered.

6. Court Proceedings – If liability is denied then our solicitor will consult with the client and if they feel the case is worth pursuing, we will issue court proceedings and attempt to recover damages through the courts. Court proceedings can also be issued in a case where liability has been admitted if we feel the compensation being offered by the insurance company is not sufficient. Our expert solicitors will advise clients on their options, but the final decision will always be made by the client and we will ensure that their wishes are carried out.

Case Study

Jim is 60 years old and is retired. While walking in his local park one day he tripped on a pothole in the middle of the path that was not filled in. There were no warning signs in the vicinity of the pothole and Jim stumbled into it unknowingly. Jim fell on to his knee and was bleeding, he was in a great deal of pain. A passer by noticed Jim and was able to call an ambulance. Jim went to hospital and received 5 stitches to his knee. He later returned to the location of the accident and took pictures of the defect.

Jim then arranged a consultation with a personal injury solicitor at PA Duffy and Company. He explained what happened and provided the photographs he had taken. His solicitor advised him that the local Council owned this park and that is who the letter of claim would be sent to. In the meantime, an engineer was sent to examine the pothole. The engineers report concluded that the area was poorly maintained and represented a risk to pedestrians. This report was then forwarded to the third party insurance company. Jim then attended with a Consultant Plastic Surgeon who examined the injuries to his knee. The Consultants report concluded that there was a visible scar that would be permanent in nature.

The Insurance company completed their investigations and informed PA Duffy and Company that liability was admitted. Jim’s solicitor then sent the Consultant’s report and an initial offer of £6,000 was made. Jim’s solicitor argued that this was not sufficient, particularly as the scarring to his knee was permanent and he had experienced ongoing pain and discomfort. A final settlement offer of £10,000 was made and Jim was happy to accept this.

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