Claiming for a Slip, Trip or Fall
A significant proportion of compensation claims in the UK involve people who have suffered personal injuries after slipping, tripping or falling. Of course, falling over is an accident that can happen to anyone at any time and anywhere. However, it is not always the case that a slip, trip or fall occurs as a result of sheer misfortune. Sometimes, the cause of a slip, trip or fall can be attributed to another person’s negligence, whether in the form of a private homeowner who has caused damage to a pathway or a local authority that has failed to ensure the roads and pavements for which it is responsible are maintained to a reasonable standard of safety. Where a slip, trip or fall that is caused by another person’s negligence results in death or personal injury, it is only right that the victims (or their families) seek compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
I have suffered a personal injury after falling over. What should I do?
First, it is obviously important to determine the extent of any physical harm sustained in the accident and, if necessary, seek emergency medical treatment. Many slips, trips and falls result in a host of serious injuries, including fractures, head injuries and internal bleeding, so a trip to hospital may be required. However, injuries do not always show symptoms immediately, so it is usually best to visit a hospital if only to be on the safe side. It would also help any future compensation claim should one be brought against another party, as medical evidence provides valuable evidence to support a case. If you feel that the injury was caused by somebody else’s negligence, you should contact a specialist personal injury solicitor without delay.
I believe that my injury was caused by another person’s negligence. How do I claim?
As mentioned above, it is imperative to seek immediate medical treatment and to obtain written evidence supporting any injuries sustained in the incident. Upon contacting a specialist personal injury solicitor, the merits of your case will be assessed in order to determine whether a claim can be brought on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. Your solicitor will best advise you at this stage.
What steps can I take to improve the odds of my claim proving successful?
Your solicitor will be able to judge whether a claim is likely to be successful although there is always some margin of error and the case law on negligence is constantly evolving. To help support your claim, it is important to collect detailed evidence, including medical reports, statements from doctors, photographs of the accident scene and eye witness details (names, addresses and telephone numbers). Also, it is important to initiate your claim within three years of the accident occurring. In fact, the sooner the better in most cases.
Guide to Claiming Compensation for a Slip, Trip or Fall
Slips, trips and falls are common causes of personal injury; in fact, a significant proportion of all compensation claims for personal injury in the UK involve slips, trips or falls. As a general guide, compensation can be claimed by any person who suffers a personal injury as a result of somebody else’s negligence. The specific legal elements of any such claim are discussed in more depth below; however, to summarise, various steps must be established that demonstrate a certain relationship between the claimant (the victim) and the defendant (whoever is alleged to have caused the harm), breach of which can be said to have resulted in the injury in question. Unfortunately, whilst it is often possible to establish liability, the barriers to successfully making a claim are not limited to the legal elements of the case. For example, it is not necessarily worth pursuing a personal injury claim where the defendant, for example, is both destitute and uninsured.
When can compensation be claimed after a slip, trip or fall?
The nature of personal injury claims is such that it is worth separating them into two specific categories: public and private. In this respect, it is a relatively straightforward and worthwhile process to claim compensation for accidents that have occurred on property that is not necessarily private but is open to the public, such as a bank or supermarket, as the company or organisation responsible for the land – often the occupier but also sometimes the land owner – will most probably be covered by public liability insurance. Similarly, an accident that occurs on land that is owned or occupied by a council or local authority, which would include housing rented out to tenants, could result in a claim against the council or local authority themselves; although, it would have to be established that any such accident occurred as a result of the council or local authority’s negligence and not that of a tenant. Should a tenant prove to be at fault for the injury, the claimant ought to consider whether he or she would likely have the means or insurance to cover the compensation, which is a matter worth addressing with an experienced personal injury solicitor.
In respect to claiming compensation for accidents that occur on private land that is owned by an individual, it is again worth discussing any such claim with a suitably experienced personal injury solicitor as it may or may not be the case that the individual in question has sufficient means or insurance to pay compensation. If a slip, trip or fall occurs at work, the process of claiming compensation is more straightforward, although, claiming against an employer can often prove to be more difficult for a variety of other reasons. Nevertheless, an employer is under a statutory and common law duty of care that requires him (or her) to ensure the safety of all employees (and any visitors, customers, clients, etc.) in the workplace, so it is only right that a claim for compensation is considered after a personal injury is suffered in the workplace.
What injuries are associated with slips, trips or falls?
Personal injuries can vary significantly in terms of severity and damage; indeed, it is fair to suggest that certain injuries are not substantial enough to merit a claim whereas others are without question. However, the degree to which a compensation claim can be substantiated ought not to be limited by the perceived severity of a personal injury. In other words, if a person who suffers a personal injury as a result of somebody else’s negligence wishes to pursue a claim for compensation, the matter should be discussed immediately with a specialist personal injury solicitor in order to assess the merits of the claim.
Personal injuries that are commonly caused by slips, trips and falls include twisted or sprained ankles, broken legs, damaged shoulders, fractured fingers, broken arms and injured backs. The extent to which any of the aforementioned injuries affects victims varies from case to case. Whilst these injuries ought to be considered as serious in all instances, many other types of injury can arise following a slip, trip or fall. Tragically, a small proportion of slips, trips or falls can result in permanent loss of mobility, brain damage and even death, which is partly why claiming compensation for such accidents (when negligently caused by another person) is so important, as not only does the victim receive damages that go some way towards remedying the harm so inflicted, but the person at fault learns a valuable lesson that may one day prevent a similar accident from being caused.
When can compensation be claimed after a slip, trip or fall?
Put simply, the sooner a specialist personal injury solicitor is contacted in regard to a claim for compensation following a slip, trip or fall the better. The Limitation Act 1980 provides that victims of personal injuries have a time period of three years in which to make a claim against the negligent party. This three year period begins when the claimant became (or could reasonably have been expected to be) aware of the injury. Some exceptions to this time frame are available, as the three year limit does not apply where an injury is caused to a person aged less than 18 years or who is mentally impaired in some way or another (the time limit begins when any such mental impairment is deemed to have been sufficiently treated or cured). The courts are also empowered to use discretion in allowing cases that have lapsed beyond the three year time limit to proceed; nevertheless, it is advisable to pursue a personal injury claim without any unnecessary delay.
What action should be taken in pursuing a claim?
After suffering a slip, trip or fall, it is necessary for the victim to prove that another person’s negligent acts or omissions caused the subsequent personal injury in order to successfully bring a claim. It is also important to follow a number of other steps that can help substantiate the claim should it be contested in court (in rare cases, defendants prefer to settle out of court having accepted liability). Such steps include noting the names and addresses of any person who witnessed the accident, whilst it is also worth writing down precisely what happened – not least where and when. One common mistake made by accident victims is that these details are not recorded at their earliest convenience, which often results is sketchy accounts of the incidents that took place. Unfortunately, without witness statements and a good knowledge of exactly what, where, how and when an incident occurred, the basis of a claim can become more difficult to establish, which can influence the outcome of a case.
If at all possible, taking photographic evidence of the area in which the accident occurred can further help a victim’s case. Most mobile phones produced today will feature a camera of some description or another, so acquiring photographic evidence is not as improbable as it might at first seem. It is obviously beneficial for any such photographs to include a clear view of both the area and, ideally, what caused the accident to occur; for instance, the photograph may show a spillage of liquid on an office floor or a pothole in the pavement. In the case of potholes or cracks in the pavement, it is advisable to use some kind of object (preferably a ruler) to add perspective in terms of depth and width.
How is compensation awarded after slips, trips or falls?
It is necessary for the claimant to establish that a special relationship existed between himself and the defendant. This relationship is called a duty of care, which can be easily established in cases involving accidents at work because the duty of an employer to ensure that his or her employees are kept reasonably safe is well-established at common law and in statute. It can be more difficult to establish a duty of care in other less obvious cases; although, this is usually considered when a specialist personal injury solicitor assesses the merits of a particular claim.
Once a duty of care has been successfully established, it is necessary for the claimant to prove that there was a breach of this duty and that the breach caused the personal injury in question. This process is comprised of various legal principles and tests that aim to establish whether the defendant acted with reasonable care to avoid reasonably foreseeable risks. The cause of a personal injury is assessed both factually in so far as the court will ask whether the injury would have occurred ‘but for’ the defendant’s acts or omissions and legally insomuch as the court will address the issue of remoteness or proximity (i.e. are there any breaks in the chain of causation?).
As with any personal injury that is caused by the negligence of somebody other than the victim, it is essential that steps are taken to claim for compensation; indeed, the awarding of damages is not merely about undoing a wrong (at least so far as is possible), it is about ensuring a safer world for everybody.