Is it possible to claim compensation for tripping on a manhole cover? How do I go about making a claim?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

It is possible to claim compensation for tripping on a manhole cover if the manhole cover was faulty, was not fitted correctly or had a raised edge making it a trip hazard. However, making a claim for compensation for having tripped on a manhole cover can be complicated for a number of reasons.

First of all, it may not always be straightforward to determine who the negligent party is. In order to make a application for assessment to the Injuries Board for a trip over a manhole cover, you must be able to identify the “respondent” – or party responsible for your injuries. Claiming compensation for tripping on a manhole cover may therefore take some investigation before the claim can be submitted. The respondent may be the local authority, a private land owner or the utility company which installed, uses or last accessed the manhole.

The second aspect of a claim for a trip on a manhole cover which must be considered is that often the respondent may have owed the victim a duty of care to ensure the manhole did not pose a risk of tripping or slipping, but that duty of care is not “absolute”. This means that although you tripped on a manhole cover, it does automatically give you the right to make a claim for manhole trip injury compensation. You must first establish that the respondent should have been aware that a hazard existed and did nothing to correct the problem in an acceptable time frame before a claim for compensation for having tripped on a manhole cover is possible.

Finally, you must establish that the risk of tripping on a manhole cover was unacceptably high and the manhole cover represented a serious health and safety risk. You may need to collect evidence of the hazard to support your claim and the best way to do this is to return to the location where you tripped on a manhole cover and take photographs. You need to clearly show the height of the hazard and record its exact location. You should also be able to identify the company which installed the manhole from the markings on the manhole cover, although this does not necessarily identify them as the respondent.

A personal injury solicitor is in the best position to assist you with identifying the respondent and helping you to determine whether under the circumstances there has been negligence and you are within your rights to claim compensation for having tripped on a manhole cover. Although the Statute of Limitations gives you two years to make a claim, the likelihood of successfully recovering trip injury compensation is greatest if a claim is made promptly. You should therefore seek legal advice as soon as possible after your accident. Once eligibility and negligence are confirmed, an application for assessment can be submitted to the Injuries Board in respect of your claim for compensation for tripping on a manhole cover.