If you are injured in a public place because it has been poorly maintained or allowed to become dangerous, you may have grounds to claim against a council.
Essentially, councils are responsible for looking after most of the public spaces in Britain. You have a right to use those spaces with a reasonable degree of safety as you go about your ordinary daily business. If you have an accident that isn’t your fault, you have a right to compensation.
Exactly what constitutes proper maintenance depends on the particular location, but there are some basic principles that apply pretty much everywhere. Within reason, a public space should be:
- Safe to walk on if designed for pedestrians
- Safe to drive on if designed for cars
- Safe from falling objects
- Free of obstructions and litter
- Adequately lit at night
If you have an accident because one of these rules has been broken, it’s useful to get photographs that illustrate the problem. It can also be useful to find local people who can confirm that the area was poorly maintained. Take their details and pass them onto your solicitor, who will be able to get formal statements from them. You should do the same with anyone who witnessed your accident directly.
A valid claim
In order to be valid, your claim will normally need to relate to something that happened within the last three years. Even if you were not physically injured, you may be able to claim if you suffered severe stress, as long as you have seen a doctor or similarly qualified professional about it.
If you have any doubts about the validity of your claim, you can call our team at Accident Advice Helpline to discuss it. They will talk through it with you and they may also be able to tell you how much compensation you could get if you claim successfully. It costs nothing to call, you can do it any time and you won’t be under any pressure to make a claim. We understand that you might want time to think things through. If you do decide to go ahead, let us know and we’ll be able to get things moving for you.
If our team agrees that you have grounds to claim against a council, they can set you up with a solicitor who is experienced in handling cases of that sort. Your solicitor will then work with you to build up your case. You will probably be able to do this over the phone so there will be no need for you to travel around — we know how taxing that can be, especially if you’re recuperating.
Any compensation claim awarded against a council normally comes out of its public liability insurance, which means you should be able to get your money in a lump sum if you win. You will then be able to put the accident behind you and move forward.
Date Published: October 8, 2013
Author: David Brown