Who you should claim against after a trip or fall depends on where the accident occurred. You can usually only claim if the accident happened due to poor maintenance or inadequate signposting of danger.
If you fall in a building, it is usually the owner or the tenant who is at fault. If you fall outside in a built-up area, it is usually the local council. If you fall in a rural area due to a hazard you could not reasonably have anticipated, you may be able to claim against the land owner.
If you fall whilst visiting a private home, you may be able to claim against the person who lives there. In a shop or other business premises, including your own workplace, it is the business that is responsible for safety. In some cases a local council may be responsible, such as if you fall in a council-run leisure centre. If you are not sure who owns or runs a particular building, your local library’s records section may be able to help you, or you can ask a solicitor for assistance.
In all towns and cities, and most villages, the agency responsible for safety in outdoor areas is the local council. This applies to streets and also to other public area such as squares and parks. It does not always apply to car parks, which may be privately owned. Some villages are owned by private landlords and some estates that include residential areas are the property of the crown, but the same safety rules apply in all these cases.
In a rural area you cannot normally expect to move around with the same degree of safety as in an urban area because of the presence of natural hazards. It is reasonable to expect that a protruding tree root would be removed from a street, but the same does not apply in a field; however, you have the right to expect that public paths will be reasonably maintained and you should be warned about natural hazards you might not expect, such as sinkholes, if the land owner knows or should reasonably know that they are present.
If you are still not sure who to claim against after a trip or fall, you can call our 24-hour helpline for advice. At Accident Advice Helpline we deal with a large number of cases such as these and we can usually work out straight away who is responsible or put you in touch with a solicitor who can find out for you. Our initial advice is given free of charge and does not mean that you are obliged to make a claim with us, though we are happy to help if you want us to.
We recommend that you get photographs of the area where you tripped or fell if possible, taken from several angles to show the problem. It is also helpful if you collect the personal details of any witnesses so that a solicitor can contact them. These actions, though not essential, will help to build a strong case for your compensation claim.
Date Published: October 17, 2013
Author: David Brown