Q: My elderly father tripped on an uneven paving slab and broke his hip. He blamed himself for not watching where he put his feet, but I have checked out the slabs in question and it is not just one uneven slab but several. Local people say the council have been informed on several occasions about them. Should my father claim compensation?
A: There are some basic rules of thumb about what makes a trip claim viable for compensation. The first one is that the pavement defect must be at least one inch (2.5cm) above the normal level, or that a slab has sunk by that amount causing a one-inch height difference with the next slab. Similarly, if the fall was caused by a pothole, that must be at least an inch deep. And you must have suffered an injury for which you have received professional medical attention that has been recorded as evidence.
You should always take photographs to show the extent of the defect. Adding a recognizable prop such as a 50p coin or ruler will help to demonstrate the size. If there were witnesses, you should ask them to provide written evidence to back-up what happened. It is also worth noting that if the accident was caught on CCTV, under the Data Protection Act you have a legal right to request a copy of the footage.
Under the Highways Act 1980 local authorities have a legal obligation to maintain all public roads, pavements and walkways within their boundaries and keep them in a safe condition and free from obstructions that could cause accidents and harm to the public. They should regularly inspect them, especially when defects have been reported, as you say they were here. Your father should gather as much evidence as possible and make an appointment to see a local personal injury claims lawyer when he is feeling better.
This question has been answered by Robert Williams, a Partner with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, most of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call 01978 291456. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and whilst our colleagues are well equipped to work remotely, due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.