During the colder months, slips and trips are common but they can happen at any time. Inclement weather can make many everyday places treacherous – particularly if the owner or occupier of the property has not taken adequate care to protect patrons’ safety. If you have suffered an injury in a public place, you may be able to make a compensation claim. In this article, I will look at these types of accidents and answer some of the important questions you may have.
Accidents in a public place
If you have suffered an accident or injury in a public place, you may be able to bring a claim against the party responsible. However, you will firstly need to determine who that party is. When we discuss accidents in a public place, we typically are referring to the following:
- Shopping centres and retail parks
- Bus or train stations
- Your place of work
- Public car parks or multi-storey car parks
- In a supermarket or supermarket car park
- Hospital grounds
- Public paths and walkways
The party responsible for maintaining the public area referred to as ‘the occupier’ is most often the party you will bring your claim against. If you are unsure, your solicitor can help you determine who is responsible.
Do I have a claim?
In order to bring a successful claim, you must have suffered an injury within the last three years that was at least partially the fault of another party. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, occupiers of premises have a ‘common duty of care’ towards visitors to the premises. As a result, occupiers must ensure that visitors are kept ‘reasonably safe in using the premises’. Part of this duty means keeping the premises safe during inclement weather conditions. If an occupier fails in this duty and does not adequately address hazards, you could bring a claim if you are injured as a result.
The difficulty in these cases is that occupiers must only take ‘reasonable’ steps to protect visitors. For example, in the case of supermarkets in winter, staff members can be expected to ensure that snow or ice does not pose a hazard to visitors in the entranceway or trolley areas and use appropriate signage to warn visitors of slipping hazards. However, it might be unreasonable and even impossible for occupiers to ensure the entire car park and surrounding areas are free of ice and snow.
When you contact a solicitor, they will ask you questions about your accident and will be able to advise you fully as to whether you have a good claim.
* This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.