If you have tripped on a raised grate and injured yourself, you are entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation. Compensation is based on your suffering and losses incurred as a result of injury. For example, if you are suffer a broken leg it is likely you would have to take time off from work resulting in you suffering a loss of earnings if you are not paid at all or in full for having time off work.
It is important to take a number of factors into consideration at the time of, and following, the accident. It is essential to establish whether or not the defect was the cause of injury and consider who the owner of the land where the defect is may be. Many accidents, such as falling down a pot hole, tripping due to raised paving slabs, or falling down a damaged drain cover, take place on land which is owned by the council. But if you were in a car park at a supermarket, its likely their responsible as opposed to the councils.
Defects on council land are governed by the Highways Act 1980. Injuries which do not occur on council land are likely to be owned by an individual or business and are generally covered by the Occupiers Liability Act instead.
When it comes to whether or not you can win your claim, it is normally a question of how long the defect had been present for, and whether there was any prior knowledge to whoever is in control of the area at all. If the defect had been present for a substantial period of time then the council should have had the opportunity to correct the defect through a system of inspection that they should have for all areas they are in control of. They are under a duty to inspect and maintain the highway. If they fail to do this, they could be liable for a claim.
Under Section 58 of the Highways Act, the council has a special defence if they can prove that they have a reasonable system of inspection in place.
“In an action against a highway authority in respect of damage resulting from their failure to maintain a highway maintainable at the public expense it is a defence (without prejudice to any other defence or the application of the law relating to contributory negligence) to prove that the authority had taken such care as in all the circumstances was reasonably required to secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous for traffic”.
If the defect had been present for a long period of time someone else may have had an accident due to the same defect, which may have been reported to the council; giving them opportunity to rectify it as well.
It is important to obtain photographs of the defect and the surrounding area as they not only provide you with evidence of the defect’s existence, but they establish how far the grate was raised in the event the council the rectifies the defect after your accident.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.