I want to claim compensation for falling in a street but I do not know if I have a valid claim. How can I tell I am eligible to claim for trip on a paving stone?
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief
Before you consider making a claim for compensation for falling in a street it is vital that your injuries are assessed and treated by a doctor, preferably at the local hospital. After any accident your health should be your number one priority. Not only must you ensure that treatment is started promptly if you have been injured, but your chances of successfully recovering street fall injury compensation could be affected by any delay in seeking medical attention. If you have not seen a doctor at all, you will not be able to claim compensation for falling in a street. Your medical records must reflect the injuries which you are claiming compensation for.
In order to establish whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation for falling in a street it is first necessary to identify who was responsible for your fall. Accidents happen and are part of life, but it is only possible to claim compensation for a fall in a street if the trip and fall was the result of negligence by somebody with the responsibility to maintain the street in a safe condition.
Claiming compensation for falling in a street will also only be possible if you can establish and prove that a third party owed you a duty of care and that duty of care was breached, causing you to be injured. The third party responsible for the accident must have been able to take greater care to ensure you could use the street safely, and it must have been reasonable to expect that third party to have done so.
The majority of claims for compensation for falling in a street are made due to negligence of a town council or local authority for failing to maintain the pavements or highways to an acceptable standard. In cases where a trip and fall occurred on private land, a street fall injury claim would need to be filed against the land owner. Claims for falling in a street against the local authority are possible provided that it can be established that the hazard which caused the trip and fall represented a serious health and safety risk and the hazard must have existed for an unreasonable amount of time. The local authority must be allowed a reasonable amount of time to identify raised paving stones and other trip hazards in the street and to make repairs.
Due to a high volume of false claims for compensation for falling in a street against local authorities, many councils now require evidence of the hazard to be supplied before giving their consent to the Injuries Board for an assessment of your claim. Evidence to support a street fall compensation claim can include witness statements; however you should return to the scene of the accident and take photographs of the hazard. You should take a ruler with you to measure the height of the hazard, which should be clearly visible in at least one of the photographs.
It is also strongly recommended that you consult a personal injury solicitor before submitting an application for assessment of your injuries to the Injuries Board.