Local councils have a duty to maintain public footpaths so that they are safe for pedestrians to use and pose no risk of accident.
In an ideal situation, footpaths would be regularly inspected and action taken where repairs are necessary, and reported issues would be acted upon swiftly. However, situations are rarely ideal, and accidents involving tripping on poorly maintained pavements are common, often due to a lack of council resources or budget restraints.
Pedestrians who suffer injuries as a result of tripping on a poorly maintained or dangerous pavement are usually entitled to claim compensation from the local council. Many however fail to pursue such action because they feel intimidated by putting a case forward against a local authority. But if an accident has occurred that has caused pain, suffering and loss of earnings, victims should claim what they are entitled to and with the help of an experienced specialist solicitor, they should be successful.
Surgery for woman who tripped on loose paving stone
In Nottingham, a woman spent 11 days in hospital after tripping over a loose, raised and wobbling paving brick.
Karen Dalton suffered a spiral thigh fracture in the incident which led to her needing surgery. She approached Broxtowe Borough Council with a claim for compensation, which they dismissed. Three London Appeal Court judges however, found the council fully liable for the accident. The council appealed against the decision, saying the judge had placed "a near impossible burden of inspection and maintenance on the hard-pressed council and had failed to properly balance the public interest against Mrs Dalton's private interest".
Mrs Dalton’s claim was upheld, however and unless the council decides to settle out of court, her compensation amount will be assessed at another court hearing.
Early collection of evidence is vital
With pavement trip accidents, it is crucial to collect evidence without delay because once an issue has been reported, it is often the case that repairs are made fairly swiftly. Victims should take time and date stamped photographs of the accident site, preferably showing measurements, and should obtain witness statements to put extra weight behind their case.
At Stephensons, our personal injury solicitors have specific experience in taking on local authorities which have failed to maintain safe footpaths resulting in injury to pedestrians. If you’ve suffered a trip on a public footpath, call us today to discuss your case directly with a specialist on 0844 245 6601.
By personal injury solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Kate Sweeney