I want to claim compensation for falling into an open manhole. There were some safety cones in the road but they were not around the manhole. While I was looking at them I fell into the manhole. Am I likely to be able to claim compensation?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

In order to claim compensation for falling into an open manhole, there are a number of conditions which have to be fulfilled.

First you must have sustained an injury which required professional medical treatment. A fall into an open manhole can result in significant injuries, but might have only left you with a few cuts and bruises which you attended to yourself when you returned home. Only if your injuries were treated by a hospital or your GP – and recorded in your medical history – will it be possible for you to make a claim for falling into an open manhole.

Secondly it has to be demonstrated that the person or persons who left the manhole open were negligent in their actions and that a breach in their duty of care occurred which resulted in you sustaining an injury. If, for example, the manhole cover had recently been stolen – and the cones you saw were for work not connected to the open manhole – it might be considered unreasonable to make a claim for falling into an open manhole if the utility company or other persons had not had sufficient time to identify and replace the hazard.

If you sustained an injury which required medical attention due to falling into an open manhole which had been left unattended with misplaced cones and no other warnings of the risk of injury, you next task will be to identify who the negligent party was. Once this is established, you can then proceed with submitting an application for assessment of your injuries to the Injuries Board – however you should be aware that consent for the Injuries Board to proceed with an assessment of your claim for falling into an open manhole may be denied if it is considered that a “reasonable” person would have observed the hazard in good time to avoid an injury.

Should this happen, you will be issued with an Authorisation to pursue your claim through court or attempt a negotiated settlement of compensation for falling into an open manhole with the assistance of a personal injury solicitor. Indeed, it may be possible to obtain a negotiated settlement with a solicitor´s help without having to go through the Injuries Board process depending on the circumstances of your accident and the willingness of the company with responsibility for the manhole to admit their liability for your injuries.

Therefore, it would be in your best interests to contact a solicitor at the first possible opportunity, explain to him or her the exact circumstances of your accident, whether there were any witnesses present and what injuries you sustained. The solicitor will determine whether you have a claim for compensation for falling into an open manhole which is worth your while to pursue and advise you on the best way to proceed with your claim.