It is estimated that over 16% of the UK population currently live in council-owned housing. Although this represents a decrease when compared to years gone by, it still accounts for millions of people throughout the UK who live in social housing.
As with private landlords, your local authority has a duty of care to make sure council housing is safe and to minimise the risk of injuries to yourself, your family, and any visitors. If they fail to do this, and you are injured in an accident, the council could be held responsible and ordered to pay compensation for your injuries.
If you live in a council-owned house and suffer a personal injury at home due to a poorly maintained council property, you could be entitled to make a personal injury compensation claim against the local authority at fault.
Common causes of council house accidents
Examples of some of the most common causes of council housing accidents that could lead to a claim against the council or local authority include the following:
- Faulty electrical items. Cookers, ovens, and other electrical appliances that are not properly checked and maintained can create the risk of burns, electrocutions and lacerations from sharp edges.
- Accidents on stairs. These could include tripping due to loose or badly worn carpets and faulty or missing stair bannisters.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning. Faulty or poorly maintained gas appliances can release carbon monoxide, a deadly gas that can cause poisoning and severe injury.
- Injuries caused by falling objects. You could sue the council if you were hit by falling roof tiles or guttering.
- Gas leaks. Gas leaks from heating systems or appliances can pose a severe hazard, potentially leading to fires or explosions.
- Accidents outside a council property. These include trips and falls in gardens and on paths caused by loose paving slabs and damaged steps.
- Accidents in communal areas. Examples include falling down stairs in a block of council flats due to poor lighting or slipping on a wet floor caused by a leak that has not been fixed.
In many of the above cases, these issues may have been reported to the local council by the tenant but have not been repaired. If faults such as broken stair bannisters are not fixed promptly, it leaves the council house in a dangerous state and puts the tenant at risk of injury. Accidents under these circumstances are more likely to lead to the local council being held liable for negligence.
Local council duty of care to prevent council house accidents
Local councils have a duty of care to ensure the safety of residents living in their properties. Some of the key responsibilities they have include:
- Maintain their properties to a safe and habitable standard. This includes repairing structural defects, fixing faulty wiring or plumbing, and addressing issues that could lead to accidents.
- Conduct regular safety inspections to identify hazards that could cause an accident. These include gas, fire, and general building safety checks.
- Provide an emergency repair service to address urgent issues that could cause accidents or injuries, such as gas leaks or electrical faults.
- Ensure that common areas and outdoor spaces within council housing are well-maintained and safe for use.
- Comply with building and safety regulations and make sure that properties meet legal requirements and standards.
- Provide tenants with information about safety measures, like fire evacuation procedures and how to report issues.
- Be responsive to tenant complaints and concerns and take prompt action to resolve problems that could lead to accidents.
Councils have a legal obligation to protect the safety and well-being of their tenants, and they can be held liable if they fail to meet these responsibilities. You may be awarded compensation if you suffered any injury as a result of your council’s negligence.
What to do if you have an accident in your council house?
If you live in a council house and have had an accident at home which has resulted in a personal injury, it is essential that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If your accident has been due to a defect, such as a damaged staircase, it is a good idea to take photographs of the fault and the surrounding area. That will help to highlight the issue and can be used as evidence by a solicitor if you decide to pursue a compensation claim against the council.
As there are time limits for making a claim, it is essential to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. By receiving legal advice from an experienced solicitor, you can ensure that you understand your rights and know what options may be available to hold the local authority accountable for their failure to provide you with safe housing.
If you have grounds to claim compensation, your solicitor will help you gather all the evidence you need to begin your claim. They will also contact the local authority at fault and handle all communication on your behalf.
Can I make a compensation claim for a council house accident?
If you have had an accident in a council house within the past three years which was not your fault, and you have been hurt as a result, you could have a claim for compensation. As with all accident injury claims, somebody else must be at fault for the accident that has caused your injury. If you have tripped over a child’s toy or have slipped on some water that you have spilt yourself, you would not be able to hold the council responsible for the accident, even if it has happened in a council house.
The quickest way to find out if you can make a claim is to contact an experienced team of personal injury lawyers. By calling free on 0800 678 1410 or requesting a call back, a trained legal adviser will discuss your accident and explain your legal rights. During your free consultation, they will ask you a few simple questions about your accident, such as what happened, when, and why you believe the council was at fault.
The legal adviser will also ask you to describe the injury or injuries you have suffered, whether you have received any medical treatment and if you are having any ongoing issues. These could include scars or ongoing treatment such as physiotherapy.
At the end of your free consultation, an injury solicitor will be able to confirm if you are eligible to make a claim against the local authority at fault for your accident. They will explain the claims process, how much compensation you could be entitled to and answer any questions you may have.
The solicitors we partner with specialise in personal injury compensation claims, including those against local authorities. They work on a no win no fee basis, which means you can start your claim with no financial risk and no upfront costs, giving you complete peace of mind. As well as fighting hard to win the maximum amount of compensation you deserve, your solicitor can also help to ensure you receive the best medical treatment to aid your recovery.
What evidence do I need to make a claim against the council?
To make a council house accident claim, you must gather evidence to support your case. Here are some types of proof that can be valuable in suing the council for negligence:
- Photographic evidence. Take clear photos of the accident scene, including any hazards or dangerous conditions that contributed to the accident. Make sure to capture the details, as this visual evidence can be compelling.
- Witness statements. If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information. Your solicitor may contact them later and ask them to describe what they saw. Witness testimonies can corroborate your version of events.
- Accident reports. Report the accident to your local council promptly and request a copy of the official accident report. This report should detail the date, time and circumstances surrounding the incident.
- Medical records. If you sustained injuries, keep copies of your medical records, including diagnoses, treatments, and any medical bills. These records link your injuries to the accident and will prove the type and severity of the harm you suffered.
- Tenancy agreement. Your solicitor will review your living agreement to understand the council’s responsibilities regarding property maintenance and safety. This can help establish whether it was negligent in upholding its duties.
- Correspondence. Keep records of any communications you have had with the council regarding the accident or safety concerns. This includes emails, letters, and phone call logs.
- Safety inspections. If the council conducted safety inspections or assessments on the property, request copies of the reports. These can help prove a breach of duty.
- CCTV footage. If there are security cameras on the property or near the accident scene, you can request any CCTV footage that may have captured the incident.
- Financial documentation. Keep track of expenses related to the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages and care costs.
These and other types of proof can be used to show liability for your accident and will help your solicitor calculate how much you could receive for the losses you sustained.
Common injuries sustained in council house accidents
Accidents in council houses can result in a wide range of injuries for which you could claim compensation, such as:
- Burn injuries, which can range from minor to life-threatening, depending on the circumstances;
- Cuts and lacerations from broken glass, damaged fixtures, or sharp objects, some of which may require stitches or result in scarring;
- Respiratory issues and, in extreme cases, more severe health problems caused by smoke inhalation in case of fires;
- Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea, and, in severe cases, death;
- Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression;
- Sprains, strains, and other soft tissue injuries may result from accidents like slips and falls.
- Fractures to any parts of the body, including the arms, legs and hips, some of which may need surgery and cause long-term issues;
- Head injuries that range from minor concussions with temporary symptoms to severe traumatic brain injuries that may lead to long-term impairments;
- Back injuries that range from sprains and strains to spinal cord trauma may result in chronic pain, limited mobility, and the need for ongoing medical care.
The type and severity of your injuries will determine how much compensation you could receive if you make a successful council house accident claim.
Time limits to make a personal injury claim
If you have suffered an injury due to the council’s negligence, you could start a claim within three years from the date of your accident under the Limitation Act 1980. There are several exceptions to this rule, including:
- If the injured person is a child, the time limit begins on their 18th birthday, from which they will have until turning 21 to claim compensation from the council. A parent or another suitable adult could take legal action on behalf of a minor at any time.
- If the claimant lacks mental capacity due to a brain injury or a pre-existing condition like autism, the time limit is suspended. A litigation friend can claim on behalf of someone who cannot start legal proceedings themselves.
- If you lost a loved one due to a severe council house accident, you can claim compensation within three years of their death.
Regardless of your circumstances, you should contact us and start your claim as soon as possible. That will help your solicitor gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case against the council and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve as soon as possible.
How much is my compensation claim against the council worth?
If you make a successful injury claim against the council, your compensation award will depend on your specific injuries and losses. There are two types of damages awarded in every personal injury case:
General damages for the pain and suffering caused to you by your injuries. This will take into account the following:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Physical and mental disability
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of amenities like the ability to pursue a hobby
Special damages cover the financial losses and expenses related to your accident and may include:
- Loss of earnings if you took time off work to recover
- Loss of earning capacity
- Medical expenses such as prescriptions and the cost of private treatment
- Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle if you suffered a disability
- Costs of care and assistance with daily living
Special damages are calculated based on evidence like receipts, invoices and payslips. General damages are subjective losses that are not so easy to calculate. They are awarded based on historical cases and the guidelines from the Judicial College. Our online compensation calculator offers more insight into how much you could receive based on your injuries.
Will my injury solicitor work on a No Win No Fee basis?
If you have grounds to sue a council for compensation, the solicitors we work with will offer you a no win no fee service. That means you do not have to pay them anything upfront for legal representation.
Your solicitor only receives a success fee if they win your case. This fee is agreed upon from the beginning and can be up to 25% of your settlement. If you lose the case, you do not have to pay them a single penny. Thus, you have no financial risk in claiming compensation for personal injury.
Furthermore, the After the Event (ATE) insurance included in your agreement will cover all your legal costs and disbursements if you lose. These include court fees, medical reports, expert witness fees and the defendant’s legal costs.
To start a council house accident claim or learn more about how to sue your council for injury, call 0800 678 1410 today to speak to a legal adviser. You can also use our online claim form to arrange a call back if you prefer.