If you have ever fallen over, you’ll know that embarrassment is often the overwhelming feeling, at first.
After a trip or slip in a public place – such as a busy supermarket, shopping centre or street – we will tend to pick ourselves up quickly and make as fast an exit as possible, even if we are hobbling on our way.
An accident of this type may be a pure accident – no one’s fault but your own – such as a trip while you are walking and updating your Facebook status at the same time.
Even a momentary distraction can be enough to cause a fall.
On the other hand, if your fall is due to someone else’s negligence (such as the occupier of land or a local authority), you may be able to make a claim for compensation for personal injury.
This article considers slip / trip accidents and why the location matters when applying the law to the circumstances and deciding whether any personal injury claim is likely to succeed.
Common accident claim locations
For there to be the possibility of a claim arising, the person or organisation responsible for the area in question must owe you a duty of care.
The types of places which are the “usual suspects” for possible personal injury claims arising from falls are:
- In shops or supermarkets
- In shopping centres
- On roads, pavements and footpaths
- At your workplace
Many different laws apply to these areas, including occupiers’ liability, public liability and health and safety at work regulations.
You need to know what the other party’s level of responsibility to you is – and it will differ depending on whether you are trying to claim against a shop, a local council or your employer.
You also need to understand your own responsibilities in terms of taking care for your own safety in the circumstances.
If you were walking along reading a book and fell down a flight of steps, it would probably be entirely your own fault and you would not have a claim.
Against that, if you were shopping in the supermarket and tripped over a low, unattended stock trolley in the middle of an aisle, you would probably recover 100% of the value of your claim.
The courts have recognised that supermarkets are designed to make us concentrate on what is on the shelves rather than on where we are placing our feet.
Helping your prospects of success
Because the mortification factor makes us so inclined to get up immediately and get on with things after a fall, we commonly forget to take action which will improve our chances of claiming successfully, should we need to do so.
If you are injured as the result of an accident at work or on “premises”, generally, try to make sure that it is recorded in the Accident Book. By law, all businesses and employers should have one.
If you feel you are being fobbed off, send a letter or email with your personal details and the date, time and circumstances of the accident. Ask them to confirm to you in writing that the accident has been recorded.
Where your fall is caused by a defect in a road or pavement, take some photographs of the locus as soon as you can – ideally on the day of the accident.
A coin or other object of known size can be a useful aid to the scale of the hole or edge, if you include it in the picture.
A visual record is important to show that the defect was sufficiently significant to be classed as legally “dangerous” and essential evidence if, as often happens, the defect is repaired after you report the accident to the responsible authority.
It is important to identify against whom any claim may lie …
And identifying who is responsible for a slip or trip is not always straightforward.
For that reason, it makes sense to speak to a specialist personal injury solicitor.
They can advise you on your prospects of success in claiming compensation for your injuries and other losses.
How we can help
We don’t charge for initial enquiries and, in many cases, the whole of our service is without cost to you.