Trips Slips and Falls in Public Places
Most of the public places where a tripping or slipping accident is likely to occur, which includes highways and pavements, are under the control of the Local Authority administered by the Highways Department. There are some exceptions and major roads may come under the auspices of central government administered by the Department of the Environment.
The Local Authority is responsible for maintenance and repairs of damage and potholes and any injury caused as a result of their failure may result in a tripping and slipping accident compensation claim. They are under a duty to keep pavements and highways reasonably safe for public usage and without exception they utilise an inspection and repair system whereby every pavement and road is periodically inspected for defects and potholes. If the inspections have not been carried out properly or frequently enough or if the defect or pothole has been recorded but not repaired in a timely fashion then there may be potential for a tripping and slipping accident compensation claim.
If the council have acted reasonably in their inspection and repair regime they have a full defence to any claim however they often do not inspect their streets often enough. How often should they carry out an inspection can be a very difficult question that depends on the footfall and usage of the particular road or pavement. In the case of city centre property it may be necessary to inspect every few months and in the case of suburban housing areas once every nine months may suffice however each case must be judged on its own particular merits. The other question which must be answered relates to the extent of the defect.
A Local Authority is not expected to keep all of its property exactly flat and even and relatively minor defects, up to 1 inch, may not be sufficient to ground a claim for compensation on a suburban street however that same ‘depth of trip’ in a city centre shopping precinct would be more than enough to establish negligence as the public have come to expect perfection in shopping centres and malls. On country lanes, depths of several inches unevenness would probably be insufficient to support a claim. The answer to all of these questions is ‘it depends’ and only a very experienced trip, slip and fall compensation claim solicitor will be able to give a reliable answer.
Tripping & Slipping on Private Property
The law relating to private property is in many regards similar to the rules regarding pavements and highways. Private property can include rented and privately owned houses, shopping centres, malls, supermarkets, shops, cinemas and all manner of business premises to which the public have even minimal access. Owners and occupiers are expected to maintain their premises and in the case of supermarkets and shops they must keep their floors clear of slipping hazards such as spilt liquids and food.
Most supermarkets now have a floor walker specifically looking for these problems in order to rectify them as soon as possible thereby minimising the risk of a successful claim. These rules also apply in private houses and if you have slipped or tripped due to the owner or occupiers negligence you may be able to make a successful claim which will be paid by insurers if the owner or occupier has a policy of household insurance.
Trips, Slips and Falls at Work
Employers are under a legal duty to provide employees with a safe system of work and are expected to carry out risk assessments for any activity that may carry the slightest risk of injury. An employer is expected to keep his premises fully maintained and to keep walkways, corridors and workspace free from debris and any other potential tripping hazards. If an accident causing personal injury occurs due to failure then a tripping and slipping accident compensation claim can be instigated.