Accidents In A Public Place – Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips, trips and falls (also referred to as public liability claims) can occur in almost any environment, from tripping on a pavement while out and about as a result of an uneven or broken footpath, a fall in a supermarket on a wet or slippery floor, trip or fall in the workplace. All of these occurrences can lead to serious personal injury *. What is important to note is that in a public place there is a duty of care on the persons responsible for these public places to ensure that a personal injury * does not occur. In some cases a slip, trip or fall in a public place can be attributed to the person who suffered the accident, however, in many other cases the accident can be attributed to the negligence of the persons responsible for the upkeep of the public place, as these are the people with the legal duty of care to protect people from injury.
Common Types of Accidents in a Public Place *
Common types of claims relating to accidents in public places mostly related to slips, trips and falls and can happen in a number of different ways:
- Footpath Slips, Trips or Falls
- Supermarket Slips, Trips or Falls
- Hotel Injury Claim for Slip, Trip or Fall
- Slip, Trip or Fall in a Bar or Pub
- Slip Trip or Fall at Work or in the office
- Personal injuries * on a private property
- Injured at a restaurant
The most common of reasons as to how people are involved in a slip, trip or fall accident * in a public place are:
- Uneven or broken pavements and footpaths leading to personal injury
- Wet or slippery supermarket or shop floors, due to spillage or cleaning, where no warning or ‘cleaning in progress’ sign is displayed
- Tripping on obstacles on the floor, such as cables from electrical units, or boxes left on a floor
- Trip and fall on stairs due to bad lighting or due to the absence of hand rails for balance.
- Injured on somebody else’s private property due to hazardous conditions.
Making a Slip, Trip and Fall Claim for an Accident in a Public Place*
Pursuing a claim for a slip, trip and fall * in a public place and being successful in the claim will strongly depend on the circumstance of the accident. Your first priority after an accident should be to look after your health, if you are feeling any pain, minor or serious pain, you should seek medical attention immediately. Even in cases of minor pain, you should still attend a doctor as minor injuries when not treated could develop into a more serious issue over time. If in serious pain, you may need to request that an ambulance be brought to the scene to tend to you.
When making a claim, you need to be able to prove that the property owner (public or private property) was negligent and did not take the appropriate steps to ensure that a slip, trip or fall would not happen on their property. Every property owner, including country councils who maintain our roads, streets, parks etc., has a duty of care ensure that their properties are maintained in a reasonably clean and safe manner.
A slip, trip or fall * claim may be seen as statable in cases where:
- a county council or local authority has failed to maintain, repair or construct a safe and hazard free, street, footpath, park, road.
- the owner of a supermarket/shop/pub/restaurant or any commercial premises failed to maintain a safe, hazardous free environment, failed to put up a ‘cleaning in progress’ warning sign when cleaning the premises or where an employee of the premises had caused the accident.
If you have been injured as a result of a slip, trip or fall on somebody else’s property and it was not your fault, then you may be entitled pursue legal action *. Once you have checked your health and well-being, there are particular steps that you should follow when making a claim:
1. Report the Accident
It is very important that you report your slip, trip or fall to the owner of the premises or to an employee of the premises at the time of the accident. Once reported, you should ensure that the incident is recorded on their side and that they take details the accident and how it happened. It is advisable to request a copy of any incident reports you complete and sign as proof that you reported the accident. This is important for when you make your claim *.
If you were injured in a shop/supermarket/restaurant, for example, you may also report the accident to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). This may lead to an investigation of the property by the HSA, which would further prove that the owner of the premises was negligent and did not provide safe and hazardous free environment for the public.
Make sure that you record the time, date and any other conditional information at the time of the accident.
2. Document the Accident
It is important to you keep a very detailed record of the accident as this will help you recall the incident you when you speak to a specialist slip, trip, and fall * solicitor about your case. When documenting an accident you should:
- Request details and contact information of any persons that may have witnessed the accident.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and any prevailing factors that caused the accident and also take pictures of any physically visible injuries.
- Keep any receipts for any additional expenses that arose from the accident
- Request copies of any medical records/examinations that a doctor may have carried out, this will be the record of the extent of your injuries. If you tend to your injuries yourself without any medical attention, then you will find yourself with a lack of evidence to prove that you suffered a personal injury.
3. Contact a specialist Slip, Trip and Fall Solicitor *
It is advisable to contact a personal injury solicitor *, one with experience with slips, trips, and falls claims, to discuss your case and how best to proceed. This will ensure that you make the right moves at the right time. A personal injury claim will have to be first put through the Injuries Board; this is something that is best done with the help of a solicitor.
It is important to note that there are some factors that will prohibit you from making a claim. A person cannot make a claim after a slip, trip or fall in cases where
- a person injured themselves while trespassing on a property at the time of the accident
- a person ignored any health and safety measurements in place, for example, if there was an obstacle blocking a faulty staircase, and a person processed to climb the staircase any injured themselves.
- a person behaved recklessly and was the cause of the accident
- the condition that caused the accident was not there for a long enough period of time for the property owner or employees on the property to notice and rectify the issue
How is compensation calculated *?
General Damages: Non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a slip, trip or fall in a public place
Special Damages: Out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the accident, for example, loss of earnings (if you were out of work), medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident, for example, travel to and from the hospital.
Material Damages: Material damage refers to damage caused to your personal property.
Statute of Limitations – Legal Time Frames
It is important to remember that there is a certain timeframe in place within which you can bring a claim. The time frame in which you have to make a claim is called the statute of limitations and is usually 2 years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the injuries sustained from the accident.
Public Liability Insurance
In most cases, the property owner should have public liability insurance to deal with compensating a person for slip, trip or fall that was their fault; this is especially true for owners of commercial properties.
The Injuries Board
Claims for a Slip, Trip and Fall must be passed through the Injuries Board for assessment as a first step. Contacting a personal injury solicitor to help should be your first step.
With 30 years’ experience as specialist personal injury solicitors *, Tracey Solicitors, ensure not to overwhelm you with legal jargon and can provide you with legal advice and guidance with your best interest at heart, in a language that you can understand.
Accidents in public places can happen anywhere: on footpaths, in leisure playgrounds, in shops or restaurants and the result can be public liability claims for trips, slip and fall claims on public property.