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Can I sue the council after tripping on a pavement?

Your local council has a responsibility to ensure that pavements and roads in your area are well maintained and safe for pedestrians to use, yet you would be surprised how common tripping on a pavement is. If you have suffered injuries after tripping on a pavement in your local area – or whilst visiting another town or city – you may find you’re eligible to claim personal injury compensation. Slips, trips and falls are amongst the most common types of accidents to occur, and they can lead to some pretty serious injuries. Accident Advice Helpline could help you to claim compensation if the worst has happened and you have been injured.

Who’s at fault for my accident?

It is important to establish how your accident happened and who is to blame as soon as possible after your accident. If you have tripped on a publicly maintained pavement that the council are responsible for, and your fall was caused by poor maintenance, then you could find you are eligible to claim compensation from the local council. On the other hand, if the road you tripped on was maintained to a safe standard then it is unlikely that the council will be held liable for your injuries. It may be that if roadworks or other maintenance were being carried out by another company, that they could be held liable if this caused your accident.

For example, if a gas company were carrying out maintenance and you fell down an open manhole cover, or if a telecoms company were carrying out installations and failed to provide a safe footpath for pedestrians or adequate signage of works, and you tripped and fell, you could claim compensation from the company responsible. Accident Advice Helpline has over 16 years’ experience helping people to claim personal injury compensation, so we will be able to advise who is at fault for your accident and help you with the next steps.

How common are pavement trips and falls?

You may be surprised at just how common tripping on a pavement actually is. According to The Pedestrians Association, one in five pavements in the UK suffers from ‘deterioration’ – in fact figures show that you are 10 times more likely to be injured and end up in hospital after a pavement fall than after a road traffic accident.

Of course it could be that ice or snow is responsible for your fall; who is to blame then? Well, your local council is still responsible for ensuring that pavements are cleared and gritted to a safe standard, but this doesn’t always happen. In 2014/15, 2,919 people in the UK were admitted to hospital after falling on snow or ice. Older people are particularly at risk of serious injuries if they trip or slip and fall, as their bones are more brittle and it can take them longer to recover from injuries. Hip fractures are amongst the most common (and most serious) injuries sustained by elderly people after a trip and fall, with 64,102 admissions to hospital for hip fractures in 2014.

In fact, slip, trip and fall injuries cost the UK almost £1 billion a year, and whilst it’s true that many of these injuries occur in workplace accidents, it’s also the case that a high percentage are caused by poor maintenance of public pavements and walkways. These incidents can end up costing local councils a fortune in compensation payments, a bill that is footed by the taxpayer.

It’s not just damage that can cause tripping on a pavement. As well as cracked or loose paving stones, you could trip on a damaged or uneven kerb, trip due to poor lighting, fall over because of an open manhole cover or drain or slip on spillage, for example from roadworks. According to figures from the Injuries Board (Ireland), slips, trips and falls are the main cause of public liability accidents in Ireland, with over 1,700 public liability awards made in 2013.

What sort of injuries have you sustained?

Injuries sustained in a slip, trip or fall can range from minor to serious, but provided somebody else was to blame for your accident and you have had to seek medical attention for your injuries, you could be eligible to receive personal injury compensation. Accident Advice Helpline has over 16 years’ experience helping people claim compensation after they were injured tripping on a pavement, and here are some of the most common injuries we have handled claims for:

  • Broken bones – most commonly wrists and ankles
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Strains and sprains
  • Back injuries
  • Knee injuries such as a fractured kneecap
  • Hip fractures
  • Spinal injuries
  • Minor head injuries such as bruises or concussion
  • Serious head injuries such as brain injuries
  • Loss of teeth
  • Facial injuries such as a fractured cheekbone
  • Eye injuries
  • Neck and shoulder injuries

Even if you have sustained a minor injury such as a mild concussion, you could still find you’re able to claim personal injury compensation if the pavement you tripped on was poorly maintained. It’s the council’s responsibility to ensure pavements and footpaths are safe for pedestrians and if they have failed in their duty then we could help you to claim compensation.

Should you claim compensation after tripping on a pavement?

Whether or not to proceed with a personal injury claim after tripping on a pavement is a decision that only you can make, and Accident Advice Helpline will never pressure you into making a claim – we offer advice on a no-obligation basis. Whilst you may hear talk of ‘compensation culture’ when it comes to those who claim after a trip on a pavement in the UK, there really is no such thing. You are perfectly entitled to be compensated for your pain, suffering and loss of earnings if you have been injured as a result of somebody else’s negligence.

The easiest way to find out if you have a viable claim is to get in touch with us by calling our freephone helpline on 0800 689 5659 to speak to us about your accident. There is a three-year time limit which applies to all claims, so it’s a good idea to get in touch with us sooner rather than later, to avoid missing out.