When you’re not at work, at school or in the comfort of your home, you may be out shopping, doing leisure activities or having fun. You should be able to go to any public place without being at risk of injury.
An accident in a public place can be shocking and have severe consequences. Common hazards that may cause an accident in public include pavement defects, wet floors, trailing cables, objects left in walkways and poorly stacked shelves in shops and supermarkets.
Councils and local authorities must make sure that the streets, highways, parks, and any other public spaces are properly maintained and safe for public use. Likewise, business owners have to ensure that all visitors and customers are free from harm on their premises.
Besides physical injuries, an accident in a shop, restaurant, park, or other public places may cause psychological trauma and substantial financial losses. If another party was responsible for your accident by breaching their duty of care towards you, you might be entitled to claim compensation.
Can I claim compensation for an accident in a public place?
If you suffered an injury after an accident in public, you might be entitled to compensation. A free consultation with a legal adviser is the quickest and easiest way to find out if you have a valid claim. Based on the circumstances of your accident, they can determine whether another party might be responsible for your injuries.
Usually, a personal injury claim should be possible if:
- Another party, such as the local council or a business owner, owed you a legal duty of care
- They acted negligently, causing an accident to happen and breaching their duty of care
- As a result of the accident, you suffered an injury or illness
- The accident took place no longer than three years ago
You should not worry about proving a breach of duty. Various legislation, such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and the Highways Act 1980, set out the health and safety rules that your local council and private business owners must follow to keep citizens safe from harm.
Your solicitor will use the appropriate laws and evidence to show the defendant is liable for your accident. They will also contact the other side to inform them of your allegations of negligence and start negotiating a suitable settlement for the injuries and financial losses you have endured.
If the defendant does not admit liability for your accident in public or they do not agree to pay you compensation, you may have to argue your case before a judge. However, this is rarely the case, as more than 95% of all injury claims settle out of court.
What is classed as a public place?
Under the Public Order Act 1986, a public place is defined as any premise to which the public has access, on payment or otherwise. Although you may think otherwise, privately owned properties still classify as public places and must follow the same rules to protect your safety.
During the day, you may visit numerous public places, and you have the right to enjoy them without risking a personal injury. Therefore, the business, organisation, or person responsible for the premises must take all the reasonable steps to ensure the public’s safety.
Some examples of places in which you could suffer an accident in public include:
- Streets, town squares and parks
- Leisure centres such as gyms, swimming pools or sports venues
- Bus and train stations
- Cinemas, theatres, music venues
- Museums and other tourist attractions
- Shops and shopping centres
- Bars, cafes, nightclubs and restaurants
- Car parks
- Schools and other educational institutions
There are many ways in which you could have an accident in a public place. Common causes include slips, trips and falls, exposure to hazardous substances, falling objects and poor maintenance. Accidents in public also include dog bites and other incidents involving animals.
If you were injured due to an accident in a public place, you might be able to claim compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a legal adviser.
Who is responsible for accidents in public places?
If you suffered an injury from an accident in public, do not be too quick to blame yourself. Often, accidents happen because another party negligently breached their duty of care toward the public. Based on the circumstances of your accident, the liability may lie with:
Councils and local authorities have a duty to maintain all public spaces and properties safe and in good working order. Under the Highways Act 1980, the local authorities must conduct regular inspections and maintenance of roads, pavements and other public areas.
Your local council may be responsible if you sustain an injury:
- On playgrounds and public parks
- On school property
- In a council house or property
- On a damaged pavement or road
If your local council failed to meet their duty of care and you suffered an accident in a public place, you might be entitled to compensation. A free consultation with a legal adviser can clarify whether you may be able to bring a claim against the council.
A business or organisation
According to the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957, businesses must take all reasonable measures to ensure that any person on their premises is safe from harm. They should have procedures in place to carry out regular risk assessments to identify and contain possible hazards.
An owner or occupier of a building may be liable to pay you compensation if they failed to:
- Keep the premises in good repair
- Ensure their employees get suitably trained and act safely while on the premises
- Have a reasonable system of inspection and cleaning in place
- Signpost slip and trip hazards
- Make sure there is no accumulation of snow, ice or debris in car parks and at entrance areas
If you suffered an injury in a restaurant, supermarket, gym, shop, or another public place, you might be entitled to claim compensation for your pain, suffering and any related financial losses.
Accidents involving animals or criminal assaults may also happen in public places. If you get bitten by a dog in a park or on the streets, the dog’s owner will likely be liable to pay you compensation.
If you are the victim of a violent crime in public, you should be able to claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). However, if the assault occurred in a private car park or a hotel, the responsibility may remain with the business owner if they failed to take reasonable measures to protect your safety.
After listening to the circumstances of your accident, your solicitor can let you know if another party may be liable for your injuries. You can call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser.
What are the most common accidents that happen in public places?
Accidents in public can take many forms and may cause a wide range of injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes to severe brain and spinal cord trauma. Some of the most common accidents in a public place include:
Slips, trips and falls
Slips and trips are some of the most common accidents and could happen nearly anywhere. Some common causes for a slip and trip include uneven pavements, wet floors and spillages, poor lighting, trailing cables and obstacles in walkways.
You may have a slip or trip accident on the street or in a privately owned building like a shop or restaurant. Your local council and business owners have a duty to keep all public areas well maintained and free of hazards. Otherwise, they may be liable for your accident in public.
Being hit by falling objects
Falling objects in a public place pose a serious risk for severe injuries to members of the public. These include injuries to the head and face, brain damage and back and spine injuries. Such accidents may involve poorly stacked shelves in a supermarket, falling signage or poorly fitted tiles falling from buildings.
To prevent clients from getting injured, employers and business owners must ensure that:
- Shelving is stable and well-secured
- Heavier objects are stored nearer to the ground, and lighter objects on higher shelving
- Any signage is well secured, and there is no risk of it falling
- Items at risk for falling are secured with ties or suitable guards
You could also claim compensation if an object fell off a windowsill or balcony of a private house, causing you an injury.
Falls from a height
Falling from a height can have devastating consequences such as broken bones, brain injuries and even death. Many hazards could lead to a fall, including:
- Missing handrails or defective stairs
- Missing or poorly fitted manhole covers
- Poor edge protection and unguarded openings
- Falling through fragile materials
- Missing fences and warning signs on construction sites where there are excavations
- Defective rides in parks, which may pose a significant risk to children
If a business, organisation or the authorities failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent a fall from a height accident, you might be eligible for personal injury compensation.
An electric shock can cause severe burns and may also damage the brain and internal organs. In the most unfortunate circumstances, it may even be fatal. If you have an accident in a public place such as a gym, hotel or beauty salon, you may be able to make a personal injury claim against the owner.
You may suffer electrocution in a public place due to faulty appliances and power outlets, damaged cords or extension leads or deteriorated wiring. All businesses have a duty to keep visitors and customers safe by following the health and safety rules dictated by the appropriate legislation.
Sports injuries happen all the time and are sometimes unavoidable. However, if your accident was due to someone else’s negligence, you may want compensation for your damages. If your accident was caused by faulty equipment or inadequate maintenance of the facilities you were using, you might have a valid claim.
Many violent crimes could happen in a public place and have terrible physical and emotional consequences for the victim. These include physical and sexual abuse, terrorist attacks, robberies and assaults. In most cases, you should be able to claim compensation through the CICA.
However, the local authorities or a business owner may be liable for your injuries in some circumstances. For example, if a hotel owner does not provide enough security or restricted access to the premises, they could be held liable if an assault occurs.
Being bitten by a dog can be a very traumatic event, both physically and psychologically. All dog owners and handlers must control their dogs at all times in public places and prevent them from acting dangerously around other people.
If a stray dog bites you or a dog owner deliberately provokes their dog to attack you, using it as a weapon, you might be able to claim compensation through the CICA. In all other cases, your claim would be against the dog owner. If they do not have pet insurance, their home insurance policy could cover your compensation claim.
When going abroad on holiday, you expect to have a fun, carefree time and nobody expects to suffer an injury. Accidents on holiday abroad can be very distressing and can be aggravated by cultural differences and language barriers.
If you suffered an accident in a public place such as a hotel, restaurant or on the street, you should still be able to claim compensation. Depending on your circumstances, you might still be able to claim from the UK, or you may have to claim in the country of your accident.
Each country may have different rules and time limits to make a claim. Therefore, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you suspect somebody else’s negligence caused your accident.
Regardless of the type of accident, if you believe your accident in public was due to another party’s negligence, you should seek legal advice. You can call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to receive a free consultation with a legal adviser, who will let you know if you have a valid compensation claim and answer any questions you may have.
What evidence will I need to make a successful accident claim?
If you were the victim of an accident in a public place, you will need relevant evidence to show that another party was responsible for your injuries. If you do not have enough evidence, your solicitor can help collect everything you need to build a strong case.
There are several things you should try to do after an accident to help support your compensation claim:
- Seek medical attention by visiting your GP, attending a minor injuries unit or the A&E department. Your medical record will show how severe your injuries were and the treatments you received.
- Report the accident to the responsible party. Most businesses must have an accident log book, and you can ask for a signed copy of the report to validate the date, time and location of your accident.
- Take photographs or a video of the accident scene before it is cleared, capturing the exact cause of your injuries.
- Take pictures of your injuries and keep a diary of how the accident happened and how it affected your life.
- Make a note of the names and contact details of anyone who witnessed your accident in public. Your solicitor might contact them for a statement at a later date.
- If any CCTV cameras monitor the area, try to obtain a copy of the footage. You should do this as soon as possible, as CCTV footage often gets deleted.
- Keep a record of all the financial losses and expenses you incurred because of your accident, as they can usually be added to the final value of your compensation claim.
For a free consultation with a legal adviser, call 0800 678 1410. They can let you know if you have enough evidence to proceed with your accident in a public place claim or whether you need further proof.
Is there a time limit for making a public accident claim?
Under the Limitation Act 1980, you can usually make a personal injury claim within three years after an accident in a public place. If you do not bring a claim within the time limits, you will likely lose your chance to get compensation. The court rarely exercises the right to override the three-year limitation period.
Nonetheless, if you believe another person is responsible for your injuries, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. This way, any relevant details of how the events occurred are still fresh in your mind, and it is much easier to gather evidence to support your accident in public claim.
There are several exceptions to the three-year limitation period:
- The three-year time limit does not apply if the victim of an accident in public is under 18. If nobody claimed on their behalf, the victim has until their 21st birthday to start a claim.
- If the victim lacks the mental capacity to conduct legal proceedings, a litigation friend can claim on their behalf at any time. They may lack capacity due to a permanent disability such as schizophrenia or a temporary condition caused by brain trauma. The three-year countdown begins if they regain mental capacity.
- If a loved one lost their life due to an accident in a public place, a close family member could make a compensation claim within three years from the date they died.
- If you were the victim of an assault or another violent crime in a public place, you might be able to claim compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). Usually, the time limit to make a CICA claim is two years, and it requires that you previously reported the incident to the police.
- You could also make a claim if you had an accident in public abroad, while on holiday or working. The time limits can vary significantly from country to country, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Can claims for accidents in public be made on a no win no fee basis?
If you suffered an injury due to an accident in public without being entirely at fault, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The easiest way to find out if you could make a claim is through a free consultation with a legal adviser.
They will ask you some questions about the accident circumstances to establish if another party might be liable to pay you damages. If your solicitor believes you have a valid claim with a fair chance of success, they will offer you a no win no fee service (also known as a conditional fee agreement).
Reaching a conditional fee agreement offers several unique advantages, which make it the preferred way of funding a personal injury claim:
- You can bring a claim against the liable party regardless of your financial situation.
- There are no upfront fees or hidden charges involved.
- If you do not get compensation, you do not have to pay your solicitor at all.
- Regardless of the outcome of your case, you do not have to worry about legal costs. If you win, the defendant will cover most of them, and if you lose, they will be covered by the ATE insurance.
- If your case goes to court, you do not have to pay barrister or expert witness fees.
- Your solicitor will arrange a free medical visit with an independent professional to assess the full extent of your injuries and any long-term complications. This will serve as an essential piece of evidence in your claim.
- Your solicitor will also make sure you have access to the best medical treatments that are not always available through the NHS.
Many of these advantages are possible due to the After the Event (ATE) insurance policy your solicitor will take out at the beginning of the claim. It provides full financial coverage if your case is unsuccessful, and it will cover the legal costs for you and the defendant.
In a no win no fee claim, you only have to pay anything if you receive compensation for your accident in public. This is called a success fee, which compensates for the risk your solicitor took by offering you a no win no fee agreement. The success fee can be a maximum of 25% of your compensation award, and it will be discussed and agreed upon before taking on your case.
How much compensation can I claim for an injury in a public place?
The compensation award you might receive for an injury in a public place depends on several factors, such as the type and extent of the injury and your recovery prospects. Your solicitor will consider how the accident affected your life to negotiate the best possible compensation amount on your behalf.
Every personal injury claim is different, but the compensation award will usually cover:
Special damages awarded to compensate for any out of pocket expenses or financial losses you incurred due to your accident, such as:
- Short-term medical expenses such as consultation fees, hospital stay, medication and surgery
- Long-term medical expenses like physical therapy and other medical treatments
- The cost of travelling to and from medical visits
- Lost earnings and loss of earning capacity if your injuries do not allow you to return to work
- Costs of care and assistance with daily tasks, even if offered by a loved one
- Any modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate your disability
- Mobility aids and prostheses
General damages awarded for pain, suffering and other personal losses, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma, mental pain and anguish
- Physical or intellectual impairment
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Inability to pursue a hobby or social events
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of prospects or enjoyment of life
- Scarring and disfigurement
It may be difficult to calculate or quantify a suitable compensation award for general damages. In the UK, the Judicial College sets out compensation guidelines that solicitors use to negotiate a settlement. According to them, you could get:
- Up to £13,740 for a mild ankle injury
- £19,200 – £39,170 for a moderate arm injury causing mobility issues with substantial recovery
- £38,780- £160,980 for a severe back injury, with the upper bracket for spinal cord damage
- £15,650 – £32,010 for moderate elbow injuries causing movement restriction but no significant disability
- Up to – £4,750 for minor finger injuries
- £14,450 – £29,000 for moderate lacerations and other injuries to the hand
- £12,590 – £24,500 for a wrist fracture causing some permanent disability and pain
- £61,910 – £78,400 for a severe pelvis or hip injury such as fractures and dislocations causing permanent symptoms
- Up to £26,190 for a moderate knee injury causing minor disability
- £27,760 – £96,250 for a moderately severe leg injury causing mobility issues and possibly permanent disability
- £7,890 – £38,490 for moderate to severe neck injuries causing stiffness and movement restriction
- £2,520 – £3,150 for a mild nose injury that does not require surgery
- £15,320 – £43,060 for head injuries with an overall good recovery
- £140,870 to £205,580 for moderately severe brain injuries causing damage to intellect, an elevated risk of epilepsy and sensory problems.
After assessing your accident in public circumstances, your solicitor can give you an accurate estimate of your compensation prospects. For a free consultation, call 0800 678 1410 or enter your details into our simple online claim form to receive a call back.