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What to do if you have suffered an injury from an accident in a public place

View profile for Lauren Goode
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Occasionally, we all slip or trip up whilst walking on a pavement, a road or virtually anywhere. Usually this is fine. You may be embarrassed but you get up, dust off your clothes and move on. However, sometimes, it isn’t that simple. It may be that you have hurt yourself due to a hazard and through no fault of your own.

What is a hazard?

A hazard is typically any object or defect that is at least 20mm in depth. Identifying an object or defect as a hazard is largely case specific and what a reasonable person would have deemed to be dangerous. This can all be affected by the level of lighting, any warning signs in place, any safety barriers and so on.

Common hazards would include:

  • Potholes
  • Loose paving stones
  • Protruding objects

What to do next

  • Seek treatment for your injuries
  • Attend hospital/GP for your injuries to be assessed and appropriate treatment to be provided. Your health and recovery is the main priority.
  • Make notes
  • Write down all you can remember of the accident and treatment provided. We often forget the finer details with the passing of time so it is useful to have a chronology.
  • Identify the hazard
  • Take photos and/or videos of the accident area and the potential hazard. These can be reviewed by your legal advisor to see if there is a potential hazard and cause of action to pursue.

Who is responsible?

If you have had an accident on a pavement or road, this is likely going to be the local council.

If you are unsure, your legal advisor will investigate the same.

What will I need to prove?

You will need to prove that there has been a breach of duty under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980. This means we need to prove that the object or defect is deemed as a hazard and is actionable.

The second hurdle will be overcoming the statutory defence afforded to a local council under section 58 of the Highways Act 1980. This is a “catch all” defence where the council will argue that they took all reasonable steps to ensure there were no hazards.

If you have suffered an injury and potentially financial loss, it is important to seek specialist legal advice to understand your position and rights to compensation.

Contact Lauren Goode for more by calling 0121 2367388 or emailing