Q: I have just come out of hospital after breaking my collarbone when I tripped over a badly damaged paving slab in front of a construction site whilst visiting friends. I was away from home when it happened and I have been unable to work for several weeks. As I am self-employed this has caused me financial hardship and problems with clients. I am sure I have a case for claiming compensation, but against whom?
A: A claim for injury caused by tripping on a paving slab would usually be against the local council, but in this instance it sounds as if liability may equally lie with the construction company or site developers. The first thing to do therefore is establish who is responsible for inspecting and overseeing the maintenance of pavements whilst construction work is taking place.
A reputable local personal injury solicitor should be your first port of call. He or she will contact the Highways Department of your local council to report the accident and establish who is responsible for maintaining the paving. Reporting the accident is essential to any claim, as is photographic evidence of the hazard that caused it. If you have not taken photographs already you should do so now, placing something like a coin alongside to give an indication of the size of the defective area.
Your solicitor will then send details of the claim to the other party informing them of your intention to claim compensation. Depending on the value of the claim, different time limits apply to the time for a formal response about accepting liability. Any claim will take into account loss of earnings and out of pocket expenses resulting from your injury, together with any impact on your quality of life and your ability to accomplish everyday activities. Your solicitor may offer you a No-Win No-Fee option to represent you in your claim.