Slips,Trips and Falls
We deal with many compensation claims as a result of slips,trips and falls.
The law is not straightforward in respect of these claims for compensation and the courts are notoriously inconsistent in the way that they deal with these cases.
The prospects of the compensation claim succeeding varies depending on where the accident took place :
Workplace accident compensation – good.
Public premises such as shops , supermarkets , restaurants etc – reasonable.
Public spaces to include footpaths and roadways – complicated. The reason for this is that standards applied in different environments. varies widely.
The employer owes employees a high duty of care to ensure the workplace is a safe place to work and carry on the business of the employer.
With regards to slipping and tripping accidents the courts accept that the work place has to be kept free from defects such as faulty flooring or stairways and be kept clear of substances that would be likely to make floors slippery and hazardous such as water leaks and oil leaks.
The duty on the employer is high and simply having regular cleaning regimes and maintenance inspections won’t necessarily be a good defence to a claim.
We have settled compensation claim cases against companies who failed to ensure that the treads on a staircase were properly maintained and against a company that failed to stop lubricant leaking from one its machines in the workshop.
Accidents In Public Premises :
The occupier of premises such as a shop owner, restaurant or bar owner also has a duty of care to the visitors to their premises.
The duty is generally described as having to keep the premises reasonably safe for visitors.
In respect of hazards the duty is similar to the employer and floors and stairways should be well maintained and safe to use.
With regard to spills and leaks the claims for compensation are more difficult.
The case most often referred to is a case from 1976 Ward v Tesco Stores Ltd.
The claim for comepnsation involved a customer in a supermarket who slipped on some pink yoghurt.
The court held the supermarket responsible because it had failed to take reasonable care to make sure the floor was free of hazards.
The case is still quoted in court today and the courts look at all evidence to consider whether the store or restaurant had effective cleaning systems or whether the spill could have been prevented in the first place.
We have settled cases involving the failure to clear away spilt drinks , squashed fruit , food spills in buffet style restaurants , leaks from fridges and various similar problems.
The cases are very fact sensitive but always interesting claims.
These are always the most challenging trip and slip compensation claims.
Where the public space is the responsibility of the local authority the courts are generally reluctant to hold them to a high duty of care and impose a significant cost burden on the public purse.
The most common of this type of claim is the highway trip on uneven paving stones.
We all know that pavements can become uneven from water damage , frost damage , tree roots and general wear and tear.
The duties of the local council include maintaining footpaths and roadways in a safe condition and highway maintenance is a significant expense out of your council tax bill.
However we also know that even relatively minor defects can cause people to trip and fall.
The rough and ready rule in the courts has for many years been that a tripping edge of at least 1 inch can be regarded as hazardous.
If you walk to and from your local bus stop or local shop it is likely that you will see parts of a pavement are uneven by at least 1 inch.
Therefore under the Highways Act 1980 the local councils have a defence to highway claims if they can show that they have a proper system of inspection , repair and maintenance.
The standard varies for different types of streets:
A busy shopping street maybe expected to have a weekly or monthly inspection.
A quiet suburban street would only need an annual inspection.
If the council can show that they do have an effective system of inspection and repair they are likely to have a good defence to a claim.
But we are always happy to investigate these cases and we have settled claims in respect of defective manholes , uneven pavement caused council wagons overrunning the pavement , tripping hazards identified but not repaired promptly , defects that were missed on inspection , rocking paving stones.
Not straightforward claims but always of interest to us.
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