What makes a successful public liability claim?

What makes a successful public liability claim?

By Ian Morris, Direct 2 Solicitors Ltd

Being injured in a public place such a supermarket or restaurant doesn't necessarily mean you have a valid claim for compensation. So how do you know whether or not the circumstances surrounding your accident mean that you can?

Responsibility for the accident
Clearly, if you slip and fall after running about or jumping from a high level onto the ground, any injuries you have are going to be seen as being your own fault. You can’t claim personal injury compensation if an accident was caused by your own actions!  Therefore, the first question to ask yourself is: Was someone else responsible for the accident?

When making a floor wet on purpose, the premises will normally erect a yellow hazard warning sign. This gives you the knowledge of a potential hazard and puts you on notice that you need to take extra care. If you have slipped on a wet floor in a shop, restaurant or business and there was no hazard sign erected, you may have a valid claim for compensation. The 3rd party could be seen as liable for your injuries by failing to provide a warning of a foreseeable risk to your safety.

However, in some circumstances, the erection of the yellow hazard sign is insufficient.  If the premises don’t bother fixing the problem, the sign would become redundant and they would still be liable for not removing a known hazard in a reasonable time frame.

Reporting the accident

So you've slipped on a wet floor and been injured, but what next? The 2nd question you should ask yourself is: Did I report the accident and ensure that it was properly recorded?

If you've slipped on a wet floor you must make every effort to ensure that the party responsible for running the premises is informed. Any location open to the public should have an accident book and a way of recording incidents. If they tell you they don't have an accident book, look for a witness and get their details. If you can't do that, take photos or send a letter by recorded delivery (keeping a copy for yourself with proof of postage) reporting the incident to the business or establishment. With such evidence you can still make a claim if there is no accident book entry.

Injuries from the accident

The 3rd question is: Were you sufficiently injured to seek medical treatment from a hospital or your GP?
If you haven’t had medical treatment, it is likely that your injuries will not be seen as sufficiently serious to warrant a claim. If you have been suffering in silence and haven’t seen the GP, you still can. If the GP is happy to note that your injuries are consistent with those suffered in a slipping on a wet or dangerous floor surface, you can then prove your injuries and pursue a claim.

Making a claim

These are the criteria you need to check to see if you have a good chance of making a successful claim:

●    Was the accident someone else’s fault?
●    Do you know the identity of the liable party?
●    If not, did you report the incident to the police or local authority?
●    Have you sought medical treatment from your GP or hospital?
●    If not, are your injuries still presenting symptoms that your GP can diagnose?
If you have the above, you may well be entitled to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. Typically a claim would seek a settlement for the following:

●    The pain and distress caused to you by the injuries sustained
●    Associated costs and losses
●    Restrictions on your ability to fulfil your usual activities
●    Any post accident care

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