Pavement Tripping Accidents: What do I do?


We all know that many pavements are in a bad condition. However, what do you do if you have an accident? How can you make a claim?

The first thing you should do if you have a pavement trip is try and secure a witness. People who have car accidents, always run around trying to get people to agree to be witnesses for them. If they trip on the pavement however, the average person just feels embarrassed and wants to get out of there as fast as possible. However if you can, you should take the name and address of anyone who saw the accident, or anyone that helped you in the immediate aftermath.

You should try and get back to the scene of the accident as soon as possible or get a friend or relative to do this for you and take some photographs. If possible, measure the tripping hazard. Generally speaking the tripping hazard has to be at least one inch in height before it is considered dangerous.

Make an appointment to see a solicitor as soon as possible. The earlier you instruct us the quicker we can act on your behalf and secure evidence. We will attend upon the scene of the accident, take our own photographs and measurements and discuss with you the possibility of doing the case “no win, no fee” basis.

Unfortunately pavement tripping accidents are one of the most difficult types of cases to deal with. Statistically they are the most likely to go to court and the most likely to be unsuccessful. There are several defences available to the Local Authority, who will be responsible for maintaining the pavement.

The Local Authority is not under an obligation to keep the pavements perfect. They have to inspect the pavement at regular intervals and repair any defects that come to their attention. Therefore if the Local Authority can show that the tripping hazard was not there when they last inspected it and that they have a suitable inspection regime, they can avoid liability. If therefore you can find any witnesses who can say how long the tripping hazard has been present prior to the accident then this may assist your case.

The Local Authority may argue that the tripping hazard is simply not dangerous enough for them to have to compensate you. As already explained, generally speaking the tripping hazard must be at least one inch high to bring a claim. The Local Authority will not even bother to repair a hazard unless it is at least 20 millimetres in height.

Finally, the Local Authority may argue that you were partly to blame for the accident. That is to say they may say that you should have seen the tripping hazard and looked where you were going. This is unlikely to be a complete defence, but could result in your damages being reduced for contributory negligence. The Local Authority will be even more likely to argue this type of Defence if they know that the accident happened close to where you live. This can often leave a Claimant in a catch 22 situation. If you know that a tripping hazard has been present for many years and it must have been there when the Local Authority last inspected it, then you of course run the risk that the Local Authority will argue that you should have known it yourself and simply avoided it.

In summary, it is no easy task getting compensation from the Local Authority if you have a trip and a fall as a result of dangerous piece of pavement. However you should always seek professional advice and we at Bird and Lovibond have many years experience in dealing with such claims.

If you have had an accident and would like advice on how to pursue a claim please contact one of our specialist solicitors, Gary Bennett or David Trood at our Uxbridge office or Michelle Everest at Ruislip or fill in our on-line enquiry form.

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