Although you may not realise it, one of the most common sources of personal injury claims for public place accidents in the UK is those that occur in public parks. They come in all shapes and sizes, with various features such as pathways, lakes and animals which can all contribute to unwanted accidents. For the most part, an afternoon walk or picnic is a pleasurable activity, but when unforeseen events shadow the day it’s good to know that you can claim compensation for your injury.
If you have been involved in an accident at a public park, therefore, and it was due to negligence either because of poor maintenance of the park or unsafe equipment, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation. Read on for our guide of what to do if you’re involved in an incident in a public park, and how you can make a claim which will be successful.
Who Is Responsible For Public Park Accidents?
Local councils are usually the organisations who build and maintain public parks. While it is true that they are not responsible for supervising members of the public using a park, they do have a legal responsibility to ensuring it can be used by everyone and is sufficiently maintained.
Children are not expected to be nearly as aware of risks as adults are, and this fact should be identified in the way the park has been designed and looked after. This includes:
- Correctly installing high quality and safe equipment and other facilities
- Regularly conducting risk assessments
- Regularly conducting maintenance checks
- Ensuring the park is kept clean and tidy
- Ensuring that animals on the grounds are cared for
- Making sure road and walkway surfaces are accessible
When accidents happen involving children in a park, is almost always because the council have not fulfilled their duty in one way or another. The duty of care local councils have falls under what is known as ‘tort’ or ‘common law’. Essentially this means, if a child or even adult suffers an injury due to faulty equipment or a hazard that has not been properly marked and cordoned off in a park, the local council could be liable to pay compensation.
Understanding Park Accidents A Little More
Around 40,000 children end up in hospital on a yearly basis, as a result of accidents occurring in playgrounds (and public parks too). A surprisingly high 40% of those are related to issues with park and playground equipment. These statistics were reported by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
The most common claims for compensation from personal injuries suffered in a public park include:
- Equipment not being installed correctly
- Equipment being unsuitable for the age range
- Incorrect layout or design – the wrong material for surfacing for instance
- Failure on the local council’s part to comply with regulations
- Badly designed equipment
- Insufficient maintenance checks
How Do You Make A Compensation Claim and Prove Liability?
When you or one of your children are involved in an accident at a public park that was not your fault, first and foremost you should seek appropriate medical attention as soon as possible. This could involve a visit to the hospital and even an overnight or longer stay there. Next, you need to inform the particular council that has responsibility for the park where the accident occurred.
You should make a note of the location, time and date of the accident. Any evidence that you can gather from the accident’s location, including contact details for eyewitnesses and photographs of injuries and the equipment or surface or conditions that caused the accident. If possible and available, footage recorded on CCTV may also be recalled if possible.
After you have reported to the council about the accident, the council will normally investigate it and write up a report. This will be useful when it comes to making your compensation claim. Don’t worry though, if because of the stress and upheaval after the accident occurred, you didn’t contact the council regarding the accident. You will still be able to make a personal injury claim.
How Much Compensation Could You Claim?
As no two public park accidents are the same and neither are the injuries sustained the same in terms of extensiveness and severity; it is hard to determine without all the details just how much compensation you could receive. The awarded sum, if your claim is successful, will be determined by a number of factors though. this includes:
- The extent and severity of the injuries
- The diagnosis by doctors or other medical professionals
- Financial costs incurred as a result of the accident- medication, transport, time off work
Along with the above, another factor that your compensation award will depend upon is whether a third party is fully liable or not. In many situations when an accident has occurred at a public part, the claimant is partially responsible for the injuries they sustained. This obviously can result in the money you receive, if this is the case with your own claim, is lower than you may have been expecting.
Incidents which happen concerning children are more delicate, because children are more susceptible to lasting trauma caused by an incident and are also more likely to suffer physical injuries and scars which they’ll carry with them through life.
As personal injury claims, whether at a public park or not, are incredibly complicated it is advisable to seek out the advice and guidance of a professional law firm or individual. To ensure they understand the ins and outs of the legal responsibilities it is also best to choose a law firm with specialist experience in dealing with park related accidents.