Accident in a Public Place*

Drain and Manhole Cover Accident Claims*

A drain/manhole cover accident claim arises when a person is injured in a public place* usually where a council or local authority failed to fix a defective or broken manhole cover or drain cover in a reasonable amount of time or where construction workers fail to section off areas where they have removed manhole covers or failed to put them back when their work was done.

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Who Can Sustain Injuries?

Most of the time, it is pedestrians who are involved in these accidents but they can also cause damage to vehicles and in some cases, drivers can sustain injuries. It is not uncommon for an employee to injure themselves due to an uncovered manhole or drain where adequate warning signs were not present. If you have sustained an injury following an accident it is important that you seek medical attention as soon as possible as your medical records will be needed when pursuing legal action.

Who is Liable?

When making any kind of personal injury claim* it is important to determine who is liable for the cause of the accident. Following an accident in a public place it is likely that the local Council or Authority is responsible for the cause where the accident happened in a public place*. Councils and local authorities may be held liable in cases where it can be proven that they did not adhere to the duty of care expected of them. They should ensure that they are regularly maintained and check for any potential hazards or issues. Failing to do this may be seen as breach in their duty of care.

It is important to note that if you have sustained an injury on privately-owned land, it is the responsibility of the occupier of the property to ensure that there are no potential hazards which could cause an accident to occur. If it is found that the accident happened as a result of negligence on their part then they will be seen as liable for the accident under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

If you sustained injuries throughout the course of your work it is likely that your employer may be found liable as they are responsible for your health and safety while at work.

Occupiers’ Liability

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995 states that the occupier of premises owes a duty of care towards any visitors. They should show a reasonable duty of care to ensure that they maintain the premises so that health and safety is the number one priority. They should put necessary precautions in place to make sure that nobody sustains an injury on their property. All occupiers are required to carry out regular maintenance within the boundaries of their property so as to reduce the chances of an accident occurring and to ensure that the site is safe and free from defects. This is known as occupiers’ liability. If an occupier has acted in a negligent manner which has led to the cause of the injury then a claim can be made against them.

All landowners are expected to be aware of any potential hazards and dangers. There should also be necessary precautions in place on how to act on any issues that may arise. If an occupier has failed to maintain a safe environment then they are likely to be seen as liable. It is important to note that, in any case, if it is found that the injured person contributed to the cause of their injuries, through contributory negligence, then they may not be eligible to make a claim.

Common Injuries

Causes

Improperly Placed Covers

Covers which are incorrectly placed are a common cause of trip and fall accidents. It is important that these covers are checked regularly to reduce the chances of an injury being sustained.

Unsuitable Cover Surfaces

It is important that the correct covers are used to reduce the risk of accidents occurring involving both pedestrians and vehicles. If an unsuitable cover is placed on the drain or manhole it is more likely that an accident will occur as the cover will not do the job intended.

Open or Unmarked Covers

Open drain or manhole covers are the leading cause of this type of accident as people may not be aware of the potential hazard unless they are clearly informed of this. If there are any unmarked or open covers, people should be advised of this. It is important that clear signage is used and that people are given notice of this in good time.

Raised Cover Surfaces

Raised surfaces are a common hazard associated with trip and fall accidents. People are unlikely to see this small step and may trip and fall leading to injuries being sustained.

Poorly Maintained Covers

It is up to either the Local Council or land owner to keep up the maintenance of drain and manhole covers. If they are poorly maintained they are likely to become rusty and become a potential hazard to pedestrians.


What to do after an accident in a public place*?

Following an accident in a public place*, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after a public place accident*, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Report the accident

    If you have an accident in a public place* it is important to report it to the persons who are in charge of the upkeep of property.

    Examples of such are:

  3. Identify any witnesses

    If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of good use if you do decide to pursue a public place accident claim*. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where the accident happened.

  4. Document the incident

    It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    • How the accident happened
    • Details of any witnesses
    • If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident
    • Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused you to slip, trip or fall
  5. Speak to a public place accident solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a public place accident claim* for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a public place accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A public place accident solicitor* can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist public place accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your public place accident claim* it is important to have all the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of who/what caused the accident
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Who did you report the accident to?
    • Is there CCTV that may have captured the accident?
    • Details of your injuries
    • Details of hospital or GP attended
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the public place accident claim* process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you did this yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or Hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your public place accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. You solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and your employer accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or your employer reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point without ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and to let you focus of your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all — regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your public place accident, phone 01 649 9900 where you can speak with a member of our team straight away, or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a public place accident claim* you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a public place accident*.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the public place accident*, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital). Learn more about Special Damages

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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