If you have tripped on a pavement due to it being uneven, you could be eligible to make a pavement accident claim. This includes raised paving slabs, a pothole or any other defect. Providing you suffered a personal injury due to this accident, you should be entitled to receive compensation.
Injuries caused by pavement trips and falls are unfortunately an all too common occurrence. The number of potholes and damaged pavements seems to get worse year after year. And with financial cutbacks to council budgets and bad weather in the winter months, this inevitably leads to more damage and delays in repair times.
Although local authorities do try to monitor and repair such defects, raised paving slabs, uneven pavements, potholes and damaged kerbs continue to pose a significant risk of personal injury to the public.
If you’ve been injured through no fault of your own, a no win no fee injury lawyer can help to build a successful case against the council at fault for your accident.
To have your case assessed by an experienced injury solicitor, call free on 0800 678 1410 or request a call back using our simple online claim form. A trained advisor will provide you with a free consultation to discuss your options. You can find out within minutes if you can make a claim and you are under absolutely no obligation to proceed. You will also receive answers to any questions you may have.
If you do have a valid claim, you will be offered a no win no fee service.
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Criteria to make a pavement accident claim
Tripping on a raised paving slab or a pothole does not automatically entitle you to claim compensation. There are a number of criteria that must be satisfied to make a person eligible to make a personal injury claim against the council.
1. The pavement defect must be at least 1inch (2.5cm)
When making a compensation claim against the council for a slip or trip, the defect that has caused the accident must be at least 1inch. For example, if you have tripped due to a raised paving slab, it must be at least 1inch above the normal level. If you have tripped due to a pothole, the pothole must be at least 1 inch deep.
Although a defect that is less than 1inch can cause accidents that result in significant injuries, it is unlikely you would be able to make a successful accident claim. Similar cases have been considered by judges but have been unsuccessful. One judge stated that a highway “is not to be judged by the standards of a bowling green”.
2. The accident must be within the time limit
The trip that caused your injuries must have happened within the past three years to be eligible to seek compensation. If you were under the age of 18 when the accident occurred, the three year period starts on the date you turned 18 years old.
If it’s a child that has been injured, a parent or guardian can make a compensation claim on their behalf within the three year time limit.
Once the three year limitation period has passed, it is unlikely that you would be able to proceed with a personal injury claim.
3. You must have suffered an injury
To make a negligence claim for a trip on a council pavement, naturally, you must have suffered a personal injury. If you have not been injured, you would not be entitled to compensation. You cannot claim for a ‘near miss’ or for what ‘could have happened’.
A personal injury solicitor will discuss the injuries you have sustained before deciding whether or not they can take your case on a no win no fee basis. If your injury is minor and completely better within a week, the claim is less likely to be taken on by an injury lawyer.
4. You must have received medical attention
If you have been injured due to a trip on a raised pavement, a pothole or any other obstruction, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident.
It is important that they are recorded on your medical records as evidence that you have suffered an injury as a result of the accident. Having your injuries looked at by a relative or a neighbour who happens to be a nurse would not be sufficient.
Evidence to support your personal injury claim
As with any compensation claim, it is a good idea to record as much evidence as possible. You should take photographs of the defect as soon as possible. When taking photos of the pavement, it is a good idea to put something in or against the defect to help demonstrate the size.
A ruler or tape measure would be ideal for this, but you could also use a coin, a matchbox or any other item which gives an indication of the size of the damaged area. You should take several photos from different angles to make sure the defect on the pavement is clearly visible in the photographs.
Here are some good examples of photos that show damaged pavements clearly, and would be considered as good evidence in any subsequent personal injury claim. As mentioned above, these photographs could be made even better by including a ruler or identifiable object against the raised slab to help demonstrate the size.
As well as photographic evidence, you should also make a note of any other evidence. For example, if there were any witnesses you should ask if you can take down their names and contact details.
You could also write a letter to your local authority to report your pavement accident and keep a copy of your letter. If you do report the incident, it is a good idea to take photographic evidence of the defect first. Otherwise, the pavement might get repaired before you have time to gather evidence to support your accident claim.
Was your accident caught on CCTV? If there is a CCTV camera pointing in the vicinity of where you tripped over, the footage from this can be an excellent source of evidence. Under the Data Protection Act, you have a legal right to request a copy of this footage. You can find out more on how to request CCTV evidence of your accident on the Gov.uk website.
Responsibility to maintain safe pavements
Local authorities are responsible for maintaining all public roads, pavements and walkways within their boundaries. These should be kept in a safe condition and free from obstructions that could cause pedestrian accidents and harm to members of the public. This obligation is legislated under the Highways Act 1980.
Of course, it is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect a pavement to be completely flat and free of all defects. Over time, due to weather conditions, tree roots and general wear and tear, they will naturally become uneven. It is how the local council responsible for the area deal with these pavement defects that is important.
All highway authorities must have a system in place to perform regular inspections on roads, footpaths and pavements. How frequently these checks should be carried out will usually depend on how busy the area is. A road or pavement that experiences high volumes of traffic such as those in town centres and outside schools and hospitals will need to be inspected more often than quieter areas.
When defects are found through inspections or from public complaints, the local authority has a duty to repair the defect within a reasonable timeframe. What is deemed reasonable will again depend on the area. Busier roads and walkways will require more urgency than quiet country roads for example. The size of the defect and potential danger is another factor that should be taken into consideration when assessing the pavement.
If the council are aware of a pavement hazard and fails to repair it in a reasonable time, and this causes you to suffer an injury, your claim for compensation is more likely to succeed.
What are the main causes of pavement accidents?
Whether you are heading off to work, going shopping, or just taking a walk, you should not have to worry about hazardous pavements. Whether you are on public grounds or privately owned premises, there are laws in place to keep you safe:
- The Highways Act 1980 states that the local authorities must identify and fix damaged roads, footpaths and pavements;
- The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 holds business owners responsible if you suffer a slip or trip on privately owned land, such as in a supermarket or restaurant car park.
Many situations could cause a trip on pavements, but the most common causes leading to a pavement accident claim include:
- Uneven kerbs
- Missing or damaged kerbstones
- Tree roots that have protruded through the pavement
- Raised, loosened or uneven paving slabs
- Damaged street signs or posts
- Incorrectly laid paving
- Poorly maintained footpaths
- Potholes and sinkholes in pathways
- Damaged or missing drain covers
- Poor street lighting
Not all pavement damage is someone else’s fault, and some accidents will not lead to a valid claim. To prove negligence, you must show that the council failed to uphold one or more of its duties, such as:
- Signpost any hazards or dangers
- Act on complaints about damaged pavements in a timely manner
- Regularly perform inspections of roads and footpaths and repair any defects found within a reasonable time
If you feel you may be entitled to compensation, you should contact a no win no fee solicitor as soon as possible. They will let you know whether you can make a pavement trip claim and will answer any questions you may have.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are contemplating making a claim following an accident on a pavement or any other public place, it is natural that you will have some questions. These can all be addressed by a solicitor during your free claim assessment, but here are some of the most common questions we receive:
Could the council have a defence to my pavement accident?
Can I make a pavement trip claim on behalf of somebody else?
Anyone who suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence is entitled to compensation for their pain, suffering, and related financial losses. However, there are situations where the victim is not able to take legal action and needs a litigation friend to represent them.
If you want to make a pavement accident claim on behalf of someone else, you must apply to the court and provide evidence that:
- You can fairly and competently conduct legal proceedings
- You have no conflict of interest with the victim.
Becoming a litigation friend brings many responsibilities, such as:
- Approve and sign legal documents
- Keep updated on proceedings and attend court hearings
- Consider settlement offers and make decisions about the claim
- Take legal advice and give directions to your solicitor
- Make sure the victim attends all medical appointments
- Pay any fees requested by the court
Depending on the circumstances, you could make a pavement trip claim on behalf of:
- A child under 18
Children under 18 require an adult to conduct legal proceedings on their behalf if they suffer an injury after a trip on the pavement. Usually, a parent or guardian will act as their litigation friend, but any suitable adult can take on the role, including:
- Another family member or friend over 18
- A solicitor
- A social worker
- Court of Protection deputies
- The Official Solicitor, if there is no suitable adult to claim on their behalf
When the child turns 18, you will be released from your duties as litigation friend, whether the claim is concluded or not. If you make a successful claim on behalf of a child, you cannot access the compensation awarded. Instead, the money will be kept in a court bank account or a personal injury trust and released to them once they turn 18.
- An adult who lacks mental capacity
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 legislation is in place to protect vulnerable parties and help establish when an adult lacks the capacity to make legal decisions by themselves. According to the Act, you could make a pavement trip claim on behalf of an adult who suffers from:
- PTSD or another stress-related disorder
- Severe sleep deprivation
- An intellectual disability such as autism or Down syndrome
- A mental health illness such as schizophrenia
- A neurodegenerative condition like Motor neuron disease or Alzheimer's
- A traumatic brain injury or stroke
Your role as litigation friend ends once the pavement trip claim is concluded or if the victim regains their mental capacity.
- A loved one who passed away
Sadly, a trip on a pavement can sometimes be fatal. While a compensation claim cannot take back what happened or help with your suffering, it could help ease the financial strain your loss might have caused you and your family. In a fatal accident claim, you could receive compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Any financial losses your loved one incurred between the date of the accident and passing away
- Financial and loss of service dependency
A limited number of people, such as the spouse or a partner who lived with the deceased for at least two years before the accident, can also claim a bereavement award of £15,120.
While there is no time limit to claim on behalf of a child or a victim who lacks mental capacity, you have three years to start a pavement accident claim from the date a loved one passed away.
How much compensation can I claim for a pavement accident?
The circumstances of your accident are unique to your case and will determine how much compensation you might receive if you make a successful claim. Your solicitor will take into account how your injuries affected your life in order to calculate a suitable compensation award.
Your settlement will cover personal and financial damages, such as:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and psychological trauma
- Loss of amenity
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life and life expectancy
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- The cost of medical treatments and interventions
- Cost of care and assistance, even if provided by friends or family
- Mobility aids and other equipment
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle
- Lot wages, including future losses if you are unable to return to work
- Any additional costs incurred by you and your loved ones, such as travel and hospital parking expenses
As a general guide, your solicitor will use the guidelines published by the Judicial College to assess your potential award. Their guidelines refer only to compensation for general damages, namely the impact your injury has had on your life. All the past and future financial losses related to your pavement accident are assessed separately.
Depending on the injuries you suffered, you could receive:
- £10,750 to £20,900 for severe wrist injuries causing some degree of permanent disability
- Up to £16,500 for a dislocated shoulder injury
- £13,360 to £27,320 for a moderately severe elbow injury resulting in restricted movement
- £5,630 to £36,770 for mild arm injuries with substantial recovery
- £2,300 to £4,080 for a neck injury with full recovery within one year
- Up to £3,950 for a minor rib injury or fracture with full recovery within several weeks
- £22,130 to £30,910 for moderate back injuries that require surgery and cause some degree of disability
- £11,820 to £24,950 for hip injuries that require surgery but do not cause severe disability
- £12,210 to £37,760 for a fractured skull and a related concussion
- £205,580 to £264,650 for severe brain injuries leaving the victim physically or mentally disabled and dependent upon others
Once your solicitor has all the relevant information about your pavement accident claim, they can give you a fair estimate of your compensation prospects.
I was unable to work due to my accident. Can I claim for loss of earnings?
Can pavement accident claims be made using no win no fee?
Yes, if you have a valid claim for compensation and no legal expenses insurance, your solicitor will offer you a no win no fee service. Most personal injury claims are funded through a no win no fee agreement, which offers several unique advantages, such as:
- You can start a pavement trip claim regardless of your financial situation.
- You do not have to pay any upfront fees to your solicitor.
- You do not have to pay your solicitor anything if your case fails, so you can rely on an honest opinion and be sure that your claim has merit.
- You can be sure that your solicitor will do their best to win your claim, seeing as they cannot otherwise recoup their costs.
- Your solicitor will deal with all the required paperwork so you can focus on your recovery.
- Your solicitor will arrange a free medical assessment of your injuries with a qualified physician, which will serve as an essential piece of evidence in your claim.
As part of your no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will also take out After the Event (ATE) insurance on your behalf. If you lose your accident claim, the ATE policy covers all the legal expenses and disbursements you and the defendant incurred during the claims process, such as:
- The other side's solicitor fees
- Court and counsel fees
- The cost of police and medical reports
- Travel expenses
- Barrister fees
- Expert witness fees
You only have to cover the cost of the ATE premium if your pavement accident claim is successful. If you lose, it is considered a disbursement and the policy will pay for itself.
No win no fee is the preferred way of funding a claim because you do not have to pay anything upfront, and you are not left with any out-of-pocket expenses if your case fails.
What are the most common injuries suffered from trips on pavements?
Trips on pavements happen all the time, and while they usually cause mild injuries, these accidents can also lead to severe harm that may have long-term or even permanent effects. Some of the most common injuries that may lead to a pavement accident claim include:
Bruises form when the blood pools under the skin after an injury and are not usually dangerous. However, extensive bruises or hematomas associated with severe falls can affect the internal organs and require medical attention.
Sprains and strains
A trip on a pavement can cause a sprain or strain, both common injuries that affect the muscles, ligaments and tendons. A sprained wrist or ankle may not seem like a severe injury, but it can majorly disrupt your daily activities such as walking, cooking or driving. If your injury was due to the council's negligence, you might be able to make a pavement accident claim against them.
Cuts and lacerations
Falling on debris, paving slabs, broken glass, or other dangerous objects can cause severe cuts and lacerations. These injuries may require stitches, which will often leave permanent scars and can also cause permanent damage to the underlying nerves and muscles. Even minor wounds could lead to severe infections if not properly cleaned.
Bone fractures and dislocations
A trip and fall on a pavement can easily cause broken bones, especially in the elderly. The hips, ankles and wrists are the most susceptible to fractures and may lead to severe complications. If you fall hard on your arm, you may also suffer a dislocated shoulder. Fractures and dislocations can require long-term treatment and recovery and may entitle you to make a pavement trip claim against the council responsible.
Head and brain injuries
Hitting your head on the pavement or another object on the ground may cause minor bumps and bruises, concussions, skull fractures and even more severe traumatic brain injuries. A mild concussion may cause symptoms like headaches, confusion, dizziness and nausea that may last for days, weeks and even longer. Severe injuries may cause permanent disability or even be fatal.
Back injuries resulting from a fall may include pulled muscles and tendons, slipped and herniated disks, fractured vertebrae and, in severe cases, spinal cord injuries. A back injury can temporarily interfere with your daily activities and can sometimes have permanent debilitating effects. If your fall was due to negligence, you might be entitled to make a pavement accident claim.
Falls are one of the leading causes of rib injuries such as bruising, intercostal strains and rib fractures. A rib injury can be very painful and uncomfortable and may take a long time to heal. A broken rib can lead to severe health complications such as a punctured lung, lacerated spleen or liver and pneumonia.
Even a modest injury due to a trip on a pavement may cause substantial pain and suffering and lead to emotional trauma. You may require medical treatment and need to take time off work during recovery, which could cause substantial financial losses.
How long do I have to make a pavement accident claim?
Typically, under the Limitation Act 1980, you have three years to start a pavement trip claim from either:
- The date on which you had a pavement accident; or
- The date you became aware of an injury caused by an accident
The last date on which you can begin legal proceedings is called the claim limitation date, after which your case becomes statute-barred, and the court will usually no longer accept it.
However, you should never wait until close to the limitation date to seek legal advice. It may take several months or even longer to gather all the evidence you need to build your case, and most solicitors do not take on a claim with less than six months left to the limitation date.
In certain circumstances, the time limit to bring a claim may differ from the standard three years. For example:
- There is no time limit to make a pavement accident claim on behalf of an individual who is unable to take legal action due to a severe brain injury, mental health illness, dementia, or severe learning disability.
- If the injured person is a child under 18, a parent or another litigation friend can bring a claim at any time before their 18th birthday. Afterwards, they have three years to claim compensation by themselves.
- If a loved one passed away due to a severe injury, you could make a pavement accident claim within three years from the date they died or the date a post-mortem revealed the cause of death.
Getting in touch with a no win no fee solicitor straight after your accident can make collecting evidence, finding witnesses and building a strong case much easier.
Nobody witnessed my accident. Can I still make a claim?
Find out if you can claim
If you would like an informal chat to discuss a possible pavement accident claim, contact a solicitor today by entering your details into our online claim form, or call free on 0800 678 1410. An experienced legal advisor will answer any questions you may have and will let you know if you are eligible to claim compensation.