Highway tripping claims can occur in any of the following circumstances:
- Tripping/falling on potholes in the road or footpath
- Tripping/falling on damaged or uneven paving stones
- Tripping/falling where roadworks are being undertaken
- Tripping/falling down exposed drains
What is the public highway?
The public highway is made up of streets, roads, pavements, footpaths, walkways and any other land over which the public has a free right of way.
Is the Highway Authority responsible for my tripping accident?
The Highway Authority is not automatically liable to pay compensation to any person injured in a tripping accident on public land. They are responsible for the proper maintenance and repair of the highways. This means that the Authority must ensure that the highway is kept in a reasonably safe condition to protect those using it from becoming injured by dangerous defects.
What is a dangerous defect in the highway?
There is no hard and fast test to determine whether a defect is dangerous or not. It will depend on the size and nature of the defect in question, but most minor defects and differences in level will not be classed as dangerous. As a general rule, a dangerous defect is one where there is a difference in level in excess of 25mm (roughly 1 inch).
Will my claim succeed?
The legal duty of the Highway Authority is to have in place a reasonable system of inspection and repair. There is a statutory defence available to the Highway Authority if they can show they carried out proper and regular inspections and that any defects found during those inspections were repaired promptly.
5 steps to a successful claim
If you are injured in a highway tripping accident that was caused by a dangerous defect, you should take the following steps to ensure that you have the best chance of making a successful claim:
- Take photographs showing the location of the defect that caused you to trip (including any nearby landmarks, houses, shops etc.) so that the defect can be easily identified.
- Take close up photographs of the defect with a ruler positioned to show the width, length and, most importantly, the depth. You must prove that the defect was dangerous and these measurements are essential in being able to do so.
- Make a note of the names and addresses of any nearby houses or shops. The residents may be useful witnesses if you need to produce evidence to show how long the defect had been there.
- Seek medical attention from a hospital or your GP to ensure that there is a full record of your injuries in your medical records. If possible, take photographs of your injuries.
- Seek specialist legal advice before bringing the defect to the attention of the Highway Authority. Obviously it is important to report dangerous defects to the Highway Authority so that proper repair work is undertaken. However, if you intend to make a personal injury claim, it is crucially important to ensure that proper evidence of the defect is secured before repairs are carried out.
Questions for a specialist personal injury lawyer
If you suffer a fall on the public highway, it is important to seek specialist advice as soon as possible to ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries and losses. Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.