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Oakwood Solicitors

Accidents in
Public Places

Have you been injured
and it wasn’t your fault?

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Testimonials

Outstanding.

Beverley dealt with my accident claim and was very helpful and thorough. Thank you for all of your help and patience. Very professional.

- Emma

Very good job.

Saima should get a commission for it and deserves a holiday too! Saima - very good job you've done, and keep it up. Best of luck in the near future. Thanks.

- Ali Shah

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The Experts in Accidents in Public Claims

Accidents that occur on property or land owned by somebody else are called Occupiers’ Liability accidents. This can include accidents which occur in buildings, on ‘premises’ or on land which is not controlled by you or your employer. Premises can include land and buildings, as well as any fixed or moveable structure, and can cover anything from shops, offices, public buildings, aircraft, and houses.

There is a duty of care that is owed to lawful visitors under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 to take reasonable care to ensure that visitors will be reasonably safe when using the premises. The Occupiers Liability Act 1984 covers people other than visitors, such as trespassers.

The duty owed by occupiers is “to take care as is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case to see that they are not injured on the premises by the danger concerned”.

Accidents on private property

Accidents in bars, restaurants and pubs

Bars, restaurants, and pubs are places we go to unwind, however as with any public place, there are always risks of accidents occurring. The proprietors owe you a duty of care to make sure you are reasonably safe in using the premises as a lawful visitor. If you suffer an injury as a result of negligence, you could be entitled to compensation.

The most common accidents include trips, slips, cuts from broken glass, or even injuries caused by members of staff, such as bouncers.

If you are intoxicated at the time of the accident or are wearing high heels, this may have a detrimental effect on your claim. Depending on the circumstances, you may still be able to make claim, although the amount you receive may be reduced.

Accidents in gyms and sports halls

We have all heard the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ however if gym equipment is faulty and has caused you unnecessary injury you may be entitled to compensation.

In addition to the equipment being faulty, there may be other issues with the gym or sports halls which could cause accidents. Sports halls and gyms, whether they are private or council-run, should be safe, however unfortunately this is not always the case and the occupier could be held in breach of their duty of care to keep you reasonably safe.

Common examples of where things can go wrong include uneven or slippery surfaces, obstacles on the floor, such as netting or other tripping hazards, and poorly maintained equipment.

Accidents in shops, supermarkets and car parks

Shops, supermarkets, and car parks are busy places where, unfortunately, accidents happen. Whether the incident took place in a car park, shop/supermarket aisles, a petrol station, café, or anywhere on any of these premises, the establishment could be responsible.

Accidents usually happen when safety regulations and procedures aren’t followed. For example: failing to remove hazards or spillages quickly, failing to signpost hazards or spillages, or failing to follow safety practices set by the Health and Safety Executive, etc.

The most common preventable hazards include wet floors (without warning signs) caused by leaking freezers or the residue of cleaning products, spillages, obstacles, obstructions, uneven flooring or carpeting, and clutter.

A car park may be private land and therefore, maintained privately by the shop/supermarket. If you have a slip outside in the car park, the shop will still be liable as they still owe a duty of care to you. This means that all road surfaces should be in a fit condition for use.

Care should also be taken in all weathers. For example, for ice and snow – salt and grit should be placed. Therefore, if you slipped on ice resulting in personal injury, the shop/supermarket could be liable and you may be entitled to compensation.

Trips and slips

There are often hazards on the floor which are not expected and can cause us to trip or slip and suffer a personal injury.

Trips usually occur when the flooring is defective, such as a raised kerb, pothole, or uneven flooring. Trips can also be caused by items negligently being left on the floor by another person, or in a shop where an employee may have left something on the floor which has caused your accident.

Slips usually occur due to water or liquids on the floor, which is normally caused by inadequate cleaning. In some cases, the floor has been cleaned, but no wet floor signs are present to warn of the danger.

Accidents in schools, college and universities

Schools, colleges, and universities may be some of the safest places thanks to safeguarding procedures. However, there is always a risk that an accident could occur. If the accident resulted due to somebody else’s actions, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

It is expected that children get some bumps and bruises from playing at school, but if injuries were caused by the negligence of the school you may be able to claim compensation. Anyone involved in an accident on school premises due to someone else’s negligence (ie: lack of supervision within the classroom or a gym class) may also be entitled to make a claim.

If the child is on a school trip and not on school premises, the school will not necessarily be liable for the incident. The school will have a duty of care to protect the child and keep them safe within reason. However, it may be due to another institution’s negligence. For example, if your child has gone to an adventure camp and the camp is negligent for an injury, the camp may be responsible for injuries sustained while on their premises.

Colleges and universities also have a duty of care for students. It is expected that equipment is kept up to standard and that all regulations have been followed. For example, corridors kept clear of tripping hazards, equipment passes health and safety checks, and that all policies and procedures are followed.

Accidents in rented accommodation

If you live in rented accommodation you may have reported issues with your home to your landlord or housing association. In some cases, if a hazard has been reported but not addressed, this can lead to accidents resulting in a personal injury.

We deal with a range of accidents in the home, such as defective paving, inadequately fitted kitchens, and faulty stairs or steps. Accidents can also occur in communal areas of flats due to inadequate cleaning or lighting.

Other types of public liability accidents

Public highway accidents

Accidents arising from trips, slips, and falls on roads or streets are very common. Every year, thousands of people make a claim after being injured in a public place. Most claims are due to broken or uneven pavements, kerbs, or potholes on the roads and pathways.

You must be able to prove that the person responsible for maintaining the land/area was negligent in their duty. For example, you may have to demonstrate that an organisation failed to maintain a public pavement and allowed it to fall into such a state of disrepair that it caused an avoidable accident leading to you sustaining injuries.

You would have to prove that the defect which caused your accident was an ‘actionable defect.’ What is actionable depends on where the defect is and the guidelines of the local authority and you would need photographs of the defect, with measurement. This is important as the area may be repaired shortly after your accident.

Accidents caused by animals

Animal attacks are not uncommon and may cause devastating life-changing and permanent injuries, including psychological injuries.

The most common animal attack is caused by dogs. Dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dog does not harm anyone. This can be achieved by ensuring their dog is trained, that the correct lead/harness/muzzle is used, or by having control of their dog.

The Dangerous Dog Act 1991 was enacted to protect the public from dogs that are particularly considered dangerous (i.e. Pit-Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino).

You may be able to claim compensation if you have suffered an attack from someone else’s animal in a domestic setting, or an attack on farmland or surrounding public highways and property.

Claims involving horses can be a result of working with animals and sustaining an injury due to the nature of work, or as a horse rider (whether experienced or a one-off ride). The horse may kick, or buck which could cause injury, but this must be caused by another person’s actions.

In riding schools, accidents may be caused by defective equipment, such as loose straps on the saddle, incorrectly fitted riding hats or body protection, or instructors not being suitably qualified or experienced.

Other animal attacks can include cattle, cats, pigs, and livestock. If you work with livestock, your employer should provide you with personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear, and suitable training should have been provided.

Beauty treatment claims

We all want to look good and know the phrase “pain is beauty” however sometimes treatments go wrong and can cause excessive pain and suffering, which is not acceptable.

Whether this is burns from waxing or negligent laser treatments, scarring can be an unintended result, which can cause emotional distress.

In these types of claims, it can be difficult to establish who is responsible as a lot of beauticians can be sole traders or a franchise. It can also be difficult to identify if there is insurance in place to meet the cost of the claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a claim?

You can begin your enquiries by contacting one of our team to arrange a free initial consultation. Successful claims will be carried out on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

Who can make a claim?

A claim can cover anybody visiting the premises. The extent of the duty on the Occupier is to take such care as is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which they are invited by the occupier to be there. This applies to both children and adults.

However, if you are a skilled visitor, for example, visiting a construction site and are experienced – whilst the occupier has a duty, you may be expected to take some care for your own safety.

There are three types of lawful visitor:

  • Those with express permission, such as a person you invite into your house
  • Those with implied permission, such as a person entering a shop
  • Those with a right to enter, such as a police officer

I had an accident in a public place but the shop has closed. Can I still make a claim?

It may not matter that the shop has closed down, so long as they had Public Liability Insurance at the time of your accident. If your accident happened in a shop as part of a chain, we can contact the head office.

If it transpires the premises did not have any Public Liability Insurance at the time of your accident, it would make your claim more difficult to pursue as there may not be funds to meet the cost of your claim.

Are there any charities that could help me?

Why use Oakwood Solicitors Ltd to make your claim?

We have years of experience in running and pursuing such claims. We will ensure that we update you at every stage of the case and you will have an experienced, dedicated case handler from the very beginning.

It can be very stressful after an injury, and our team can assist you by breaking down the legal jargon during the process, and listening to you.

Costs, awards and timeframes

How will my case be funded?

We offer a no-win, no-fee funding option which means that unless you win your case you will not have to pay anything. There are no hidden charges and we do not ask for any money upfront.

What can I claim?

Each case is assessed individually and is dependent on supportive medical evidence. You can claim for:

General Damages – An award made for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity of life that is evidentially linked to the accident. The pain and suffering element of the award would compensate for all past, present, and future physical and psychiatric symptoms.

Loss of amenity means the inability to complete activities, either temporarily or permanently, after an accident, which could be undertaken before. This is designed to compensate for the actual injuries suffered, and the effect those have had on quality of life.

Special Damages – Compensation for financial loss or out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Including but not limited to:

  • Loss of earnings
  • Medication or prescription charges
  • Travel to appointments
  • Any cost of care for extra care needed from family or care providers

If you are not able to do things such as gardening, walking the dog, and have to pay somebody for these services as a direct consequence of your accident and subsequent injuries, these can also be claimed for. However, an injured person has a duty to take reasonable steps to minimise losses/expenses. This is called mitigation of losses, and a court will assess whether or not the loss was reasonably incurred, before making an award.

What is my claim worth?

This is very much dependent on the severity of your injuries and the effects it has had on your life. If the symptoms are ongoing and are supported by the medical evidence, this would increase the value of your claim.

The best starting point for assessing the level of your compensation is by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines, which set out financial brackets for common types of injury.

The Guidelines are broken down into the affected body parts, the type of injury, and the severity of the injury. They were introduced as it was recognised that whilst no two cases are ever precisely the same, guidelines were required to develop consistency between awards.

Precedent case law, which refers to previous cases that have appeared before the Courts, is also relied on to support the valuation. Consideration must also be given to whether you have had a pre-existing disability or whether the injury accelerated a pre-existing condition.

Even where the older injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the accident, it is something that will have to be considered and would affect the value of your claim.

Is there a time limit for bringing a claim?

Legal proceedings must be initiated within 3 years from the date of your accident. Failure to do this may result in your claim being time-barred and you may not be able to make a claim for compensation. However, there are exceptions to the time limit:

  • Claims on behalf of children – A litigation friend (typically a parent) can bring a claim on behalf of a child under the age of 18. The 3-year limitation period does not begin until the child reaches the age of 18. This means that the limitation period expires on the child’s 21st birthday.
  • Mental capacity– If you or the injured party lacks capacity and cannot bring a claim and manage their own affairs, the 3-year time limit will not begin until the injured person regains capacity.
  • Death – If unfortunately, the injured party dies within the 3 years limitation period, then his dependants are able to make a claim on their behalf, the 3-year period is extended to 3 years from either the date of death.

How long will my case take to run?

It will depend on various matters such as:

  • The severity of your injury
  • Any ongoing treatment you may be having
  • Whether your employers admit fault
  • Whether proceedings would need to be issued to secure compensation
  • The speed of communication between parties

Each case is different, and whether an insurance company agrees to deal with a case depends on a number of factors. It is therefore very difficult to advise on the length of time a case may take as it may be that it is not clear who is responsible for your accident. Your solicitor shall advise you if there are issues that arise which will mean the duration of your case will be affected.

Evidence and reporting/recording accidents

How do I prove who was responsible?

To make a successful claim, your solicitor must establish that the owner of the property was legally responsible for the accident. They must also establish that your injuries resulted from the accident.

It may be that the building in which your accident occurred is owned by somebody different and managed by another company. It would therefore be important to establish which company should be held responsible or if it is more than one. It is usually a different company that occupies the premises and who has control over the day-to-day running of it.

What evidence will I need?

To prove the premises/land you were visiting were unsafe, you will need evidence:

  • Photographs will show what caused the accident with measurements to show scale. It is also useful to show the injuries sustained, especially with scarring.
  • Witness statements to prove that risks were avoidable and that accident details are corroborated. For example, an employee has confirmed the area has been defective for some time, this will assist your case. Try to obtain their contact information.
  • You must be able to provide details of exactly where, why, and how the accident happened, what the danger was, and how it was preventable.
  • A log of the accident report to prove that the cause of your fall was reported to the occupier. Ensure that you keep copies of letters received in relation to your accident, such as from insurance companies, and send these to your solicitor promptly.
  • Seek medical attention from your own GP or hospital. It also helps if accident circumstances are logged in your medical records, to support the fact that you have been injured.
  • CCTV – Some public places may have security cameras up that may assist.

What should I do after I have been injured?

To bring a successful claim, you will need to establish that it was foreseeable that a visitor would come onto the property and that the occupier allowed a hazard there that was foreseeably dangerous to them. When you make a claim, it is helpful if you have taken the following steps:

  • Report the accident to the staff or owner and make a note in the accident book if possible.
  • Take photographs of where your accident happened, any defects, and details of witnesses willing to provide evidence.
  • Make a note of details of any signage
  • Get confirmation as to whether the incident was reported and if so, to whom
  • Seek immediate medical advice either at your GP surgery or the local Accident and Emergency department at the hospital. Make the hospital aware of where and how your accident happened. This will assist your case as there will be further proof of the circumstances.

If I didn’t report the accident, can I still make a claim?

Without a written record of the accident taking place, the chances of winning the case reduce considerably, unless there is other compelling evidence available. Therefore, if you cannot report the incident at the time, then report the accident as soon as possible to the shop/supermarket.

We recommend either sending a letter or writing an email to inform the company of the incident. This will provide them with sufficient time to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

What is an accident book?

An accident book provides businesses or venues an official means of recording incidents and injuries. Accident books are legally required to prove that the company is complying with relevant health and safety legislation and helps manage the potential risks. In essence, the book serves as an impartial record of events that will serve as good evidence throughout the case.

Claims for minors

Can I make a claim on behalf of my child?

A claim on behalf of a child, under the age of 18, must be made via a ‘Litigation Friend’, this is usually a parent, a close relative, or legal guardian. This Litigation Friend must have a close connection with the child.

The time limit for bringing a claim is 3 years from the child’s 18th Birthday. Therefore, children have until they reach the age of 21 years old to make an injury claim. However, we do recommend bringing a claim as soon as possible while events are fresh in people’s minds (for the child and any witnesses involved).

If you or the injured child lacks capacity and cannot bring a claim and manage their own affairs, the 3-year time limit will not begin until the injured person regains capacity. If the party will not regain capacity, then a litigation friend will be used.

Will my child or I have to go to court?

Parties must attempt to settle claims out of court, therefore, most Personal Injury claims settle in the early stages.

If proceedings are issued, this still does not mean necessarily mean that you will need to attend court. Negotiations will continue throughout in an attempt to settle before any hearing must take place.

However, there may be certain circumstances in which you may have to attend court. For a child settlement approval hearing, which is a hearing where the court must approve any claims settled, you will need to attend Court. This is to ensure that the claim has been settled in the child’s best interests

What happens to a child’s compensation?

Once compensation has been received, if your child is under the age of 18, it will be placed into a special court bank account and will be held on trust until they attain the age of 18.

However, in some cases, a personal injury trust fund can be set up, to allow trustees to be able to advance money for the child to assist with vital costs; such as further medical treatment, such as further surgery, or rehabilitation.

Sick pay and rehabilitation

If I have to take time off work because of the accident, will I get sick pay?

If you need time off work due to an accident in a public place, your employer may agree to pay full sick pay depending on your contract and may be at their discretion. Check with your employer to clarify this and ensure you obtain GP sick notes to support your time off.

If you have incurred a loss of earnings, this can be included as part of your claim if it is supported by medical evidence. You will have to provide copies of your wage slips for 13 weeks pre-accident and your wage slips following the accident so the loss can be calculated and supported.

If you have to take time off work, you could be eligible to be paid by your employers in full or by claiming SSP (Statutory Sick Pay). To claim SSP you have to:

  • Have done some work for your employer
  • Been off work for over four full days in a row
  • Earn on average £118 per week

If you are not sure what benefits you are entitled to, the charity Turn2Us can provide further information and support to you.

Please note: Benefits claimed as a result of your accident must be offset against any successful loss of earnings claim or care claim depending on the benefit. The defendant will register the claim with the Department of Work and Pensions who will provide us with this information. If you have not claimed any benefits, this should not affect you.

Will any treatment/rehabilitation be offered?

Any Claimant that continues to suffer pain and discomfort as a result of their injuries due to an incident may need rehabilitation to help them recover from their injuries as quickly as possible and return to normality sooner.

The Defendant’s insurers may agree to fund this early on in the case and look to arrange treatment, including physiotherapy or counseling.

Case Studies

1) Ankle injury claim

The Claimant was in a bar enjoying a night out with friends. A fixture from the ceiling of the bar fell onto another customer of the bar causing them to drop their glass of drink which smashed on the floor.

The Claimant stepped back to try and avoid the glass as it smashed, and cockled on her ankle causing injury. Liability was admitted and the Claimant’s successful claims for her injuries, loss of earnings, care, and expenses.

2) Dog bite claim

The claimant was working inside the property of a client. Whilst in the property the Claimant was bitten by the family dog which caused a bite mark and scarring to the leg. Liability was denied by the owner of the dog, but undeterred, medical evidence was obtained and the claim progressed.

Following the disclosure of the evidence obtained the defendant’s insurers agreed to settle the claim.

What do I do now?

Contact Oakwood Solicitors Ltd and provide us with some details about your accidents in public matter. We will then assess the viability of your claim, and there is absolutely no obligation to proceed. You can provide information or get in touch by:

Alex Singleton
Alex Singleton - Employers' and Public Liability Paralegal

Alex Singleton is a Paralegal in the Employers’ Liability and Public Liability department, where she ensures Claimants receive the best outcome in their claim for compensation.

Alex completed her law degree at BPP University in 2017. She has since worked at Simpson Millar Solicitors as a Legal Advisor and as a Legal Assistant at Ramsdens Solicitors in the Abuse and Personal Injury team before joining Oakwood Solicitors as a Paralegal.

Alex has developed knowledge on low and high value accident claims, claims against Social Services and other responsible bodies and claims to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority arising out of abuse and assaults. She prides herself on being approachable and being able to handle sensitive matters, developing a good relationship with her clients.

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