What is an accident in a public place?
If you are looking for a legal definition, you’ll find that a different interpretation is provided by each of the Highways Act, the Road Traffic Act, and the Public Order Act.
S9 of the Public Order Act 1936, probably provides as clear meaning as any by stating that;
“Public place” includes any highway ……. and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise.”
Therefore, an accident at any place that comes within this definition, could be classified as an accident in a public place. Our road traffic accident claims page covers accidents that happen on the highway and involves a mixture of collisions between motor vehicles, pedestrians, motorbikes, and cyclists.
There is a type of accident that frequently happens on or next to the highway, that is not classified as a road traffic accident, but instead, as an accident in a public place.
Slip, Trip and Fall accidents on pavements and roads – claims against the Council/Local Authority
If you trip on an uneven or unstable flagstone or because of another defect in the pavement, it is often thought that making a claim for any resulting personal injury, is straightforward.
After all, aren’t local authorities responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure that the risk of slips, trips or falls on the highway or pavements, in areas under their control, is kept to a minimum?
Yes, they are. That though does not mean that every claim for an injury suffered as a result of slipping, tripping or falling due to a defect in the pavement or road will be successful.
If pedestrian is injured due to a trip over a defect on an uneven pavement or fall as a result of a foot landing in a pothole whilst crossing a road, whether or not a personal injury claim will be successful, will be dependent on a number of factors.
It is not just simply a case of proving that;
- There was a defect in the road or pavement
- You tripped or fell because of the defectand
- You suffered personal injury as a result.
These facts must be established first. However, there is more that that has to be proved, before a personal injury claim will be successful.
Slip, Trip or Fall on the Pavement or Road – What you need to prove
It is fairly well established, that to succeed in a claim against the Council (or Local Authority) the difference in height of the defect must be a minimum of 26 mm ( 1 inch) or the depth of the pothole a minimum of 40mm. Assuming that your potential claim, meets these requirements, there is still a further hurdle that needs to be overcome, before your claim for compensation will be successful.
Under the terms of the Highways Act, the Council or Local Authority are responsible for maintaining the highway in a safe condition. They must carry out regular inspections of the highway. When they find a defect, they must repair it within a reasonable period.
What is a reasonable period within which to carry out a repair to a defect in the highway?
It depends on how bad the defect is. It will also depend on its location i.e. the same size pothole on a main urban road, will be considered a more urgent priority for repair, than the same type of defect on a remote country lane. The urban road will have considerably more footfall than a country road. This makes the risk of trip and slip accidents proportionately greater.
The Council are required to have a system in place that that administers the carrying out of regular inspections of the roads and pavements. The periods between inspections must be reasonable. What constitutes a reasonable period between inspections again differs according to the type of road and where it is located. Minor roads in rural areas will be less frequently inspected for defects than roads and pavements in built up areas near to local facilities, such as schools, shops and hospitals.
Simply establishing the presence of the defect that caused you to fall, is not of itself, enough to guarantee a successful personal injury claim. If the local authority operates a reasonable system of inspection;
- With reasonable periods between inspections and
- Upon the last inspection, no defect was present,
then the claim may fail, even if the defect was present at the time of the accident and was of a size that constituted it being a hazard.
Slip and trip claims against the local authority can be difficult claims to bring successfully. Mooneerams team of public liability solicitors are experts in dealing with these types of claim successfully. If you have had an accident caused by a defect in the pavement or due to a pothole on the highway call us now on 029 2048 3615 or you can contact us online and leave your details. We’ll call you straight back.
Other types of accidents in public places
Other types of accident that would be classed as an accident in a public place or a public liability claim, are wide and varied in nature. For example, you may suffer personal injury as a result of following types of accidents in public places;
- A sign or awning falls onto you from a shop as you walk down the street,
- A waiter in a coffee shop accidentally pours scolding hot coffee onto you, causing burns to your body,
- Slipping and injuring yourself on a spillage that has not been cleaned up, in a supermarket, shop or a nightclub.
- Slipping on icy pavements that have been left untreated.
- Falling from dangerous or defective equipment – such as a bench on the pavement gives way whilst you are sitting on it, causing you injury.
- Public playground accident caused by defective equipment: bouncy castles or other inflatables causing injury due to defects or lack of supervision.
- Accidents that occur in cinemas, bus and train stations, pubs and leisure centres, are examples of accidents in a public place.
What should I do after being injured in an accident in a public place?
Much will depend on how badly injured you are as a result of the accident. Getting medical treatment should always be your main priority. If you are fit enough to do so or are with friends who can do the following, then;
- Report the accident straight away if that is possible – for instance if the accident happened in a shop, pub, café, nightclub, cinema or other premises where there is a manger or management team on hand. Try and ensure that the accident is logged in their Accident Book.
- If the accident was a trip, slip or fall on a pavement or road, then reporting it may have to wait until you get home and be done by email or phone to the local authority.
- Try and get details of any witnesses to the accident. At the very least get their names and telephone numbers.
- Try and get photographs of the scene of the accident – the sooner, the better.
- If the accident was caused by a road defect, if not at the time of the accident, do go back at the earliest opportunity both to take photos and to take measurements of the defect. If you are not able to do this because of your injuries, then get a family member or friend to do it for you, if they can.
- Call a personal injury solicitor for advice and assistance. Accidents in public or public liability claims, as they are also known, can be difficult to deal with on your own. An experienced public liability claim solicitor will be able to quickly advise you on your prospects of making a successful claim. If they think that you have a good chance of making a claim, they can get the ball rolling for you quickly, if you decide that you would like them to act for you. No Win, No Fee arrangements are usually available to cover these types of claim.
- Mooneerams solicitors are personal injury claim experts and have a superb track record of recovering compensation for clients who have suffered an injury due to accidents in public places, from all over England and Wales.
Call us on 029 2048 3615 or contact us online via our claim form.
How long do I have to make a public liability claim?
You normally have 3 years from the date of the accident within which to make a claim. In the case of children under 18 years of age, the 3-year period doesn’t start until they are 18, meaning that they have until their 21st birthday within which to make a claim.
Making a claim as early as possible is strongly advised. Get in touch with Mooneerams as soon as possible. Having an experienced personal injury solicitor on your side, as soon as you can after you’ve been injured in an accident that was not your fault, is so reassuring. It’s just one less thing to think about, meaning you can focus on your recovery from injury.