Most people have suffered the undignified experience of tripping over an object, catching a foot on an uneven surface, or slipping on ice or oil. Very often the main injury sustained in these mishaps, is to our pride, but sometimes bodily injury is more serious. Here’s some brief guidance as to when it may be worth taking things further.
Fortunately, often slips trips and falls don’t result in particularly serious injury. Once we brush ourselves off, we don’t think of them again. Even if little more than a bruise or a scrape, it is necessary that you have some form of injury if you want to bring a slip and fall case.
Who is at fault It’s not enough that you’ve sustained an injury; you have to prove that another party was legally at fault. A typical defendant in slip and fall personal injury cases is a local council or other public body, that owns or controls the area where the fall occurred - a typical example is a badly repaired pavement. Simply the fact of ownership or control does not automatically make the defendant legally responsible for the slip. The fall prevention duty on defendant councils is not to ensure that roadways and pavements are free of defects, but simply that they inspect their roadways with some regularity. Moreover, they should take steps to correct any defects that come to their attention. Establishing that the defendant council either did not have a proper road inspection system, or that they have not corrected defects that they have noticed, or that have been reported to them by members of the public, sufficiently promptly, can give a good chance of success.
Of central importance to the claimant proving a breach of duty on the part of the defendant, is showing that a defect should have been detected. Of course, the obvious question then is, if the defect was so obvious, why didn’t the claimant see it? If a reasonable person in the claimant’s position, taking proper care for their own safety, probably would have seen and avoided the defect, then the defendant will ask that damages be reduced to take account of the fact that the claimant was probably not looking where he/she was going.
The amount of damages paid in a trip and fall settlement will depend on the extent of the injury. For bruising and scrapes, the damages for personal injury will probably not reach £1,000; the claimant can claim more if financial loss has occurred as well.