Why are claims for street falls tricky?

Most of us have fallen over on the pavement or in the street before. Usually it is because it has been raining we’ve slipped on some mud, or we’ve not seen the kerb and tripped over it. This can leave us with a bruise or two and perhaps our pride gets hurt, but usually nothing more than that.

Sometimes however, accidents can be more serious than this, and can be caused because of someone else’s failure to do something. Thus, the accident could have been avoided.

In the case of accidents on the path or on the road itself, the guilty culprit is usually the local council. They may have failed to maintain the pathways and roads or fix issues when they arise. Yet, even when there is a clear case of neglect, it can be extremely difficult for victims to claim for compensation. Why?

Well, you may have noticed that roads and footpaths have been getting worse in recent years. This is because since the economic crisis of 2007 and 2008 and the subsequent introduction of wide-scale government cuts. A reduction in spending has meant that the pot of money that local government is given by central government has got smaller and smaller with less to spend on repairs. Councils are also no longer allowed to dramatically increase council tax bills without holding a local referendum on it – something that they are unlikely to do, as people are not going to vote for their taxes to be increased.

So, in order for local councils to have more money, Parliament either needs to raise taxes nationally, or local authorities need to raise it closer to home. With neither happening, councils have to make do with the budgets they have. This means spending less money on maintaining roads and paths, meaning it can take a long time for some damaged paths and roads to get fixed. You would therefore think that there would be more successful personal injury cases, not less. But instead the courts recognise the position that local government is in and know that they cannot be expected to keep pavements and roads in perfect condition all the time.

Therefore, recent personal injury claims are only being successful if the path or road is in a really bad state. For example, if there are two paving slabs next to each other at different heights, you will only have a case if the height difference is greater than an inch. Another threshold you need to cross is that you have to be able to prove that the problem has been there for more than 6 months, which can be very hard to prove.

Quite often these cases fail because the first thing the injured person does is call the council to complain. They then come straight out and fix the problem, thus not only covering up the evidence, but also demonstrating to the court they are a responsible local authority by fixing the issue, rather than it being an admission of fault.

Therefore, if you are involved in one of these accidents, take photographs at the scene of the accident, measure the damage and take detailed notes of what happened. If there were any witnesses make sure you get their names and contact details. Next, get yourself to hospital or to a doctor. If you don’t have injuries serious enough to need medical attention, then you don’t have a case for claiming compensation.

Finally, act fast. Get a personal injury solicitor to come out as quickly as possible to photograph the scene and take details before the evidence is removed. The case needs to be brought within 3 years of the accident as well, so time is of the essence! Your solicitor will decide if someone else is actually to blame for your accident and if you have a case.

Cooks Solicitors have been in business in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, for over twenty-eight years, and are highly experienced in dealing with personal injury claims. Nigel Cook has over thirty years dealing with personal injury claims. He has dealt with multi-million pound cases and has taken cases to the Court of Appeal. He will either be directly in charge of your claim or very closely supervising it. He is a strong believer in explaining things simply and fighting for clients who have a good case. To speak to us about your case and for free initial advice, please call us on 01782 713 755.

Agree? Disagree? Do let Cooks Solicitors know what you think by commenting below.

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Areas Covered: Alsager, Biddulph, Burslem, Congleton, Crewe, Hanley, Leek, Longton, Macclesfield, Madeley, Market Drayton, Nantwich, Newcastle, Stafford, Stoke, Stoke-On-Trent, Stone, Uttoxeter

Cooks Solicitors
Cooks Solicitors
12 Brindley Court,
Lymedale Business Park,
Newcastle-under-Lyme,
Staffordshire ST5 9QA
England
01782 713 755