A Guide To Claims Against The Council For A Personal Injury

By Danielle Newton. Last Updated 18th March 2024. You’re in a public park and you slip or trip because a hazard wasn’t removed even though the local authority was aware of it. The facilities at the public leisure centre are faulty and you get hurt. A pothole in the road creates a road traffic injury and you suffer harm. Who is responsible for accidents like these? In many cases, it is the local authority that has the legal duty of care. In this article, we discuss what could qualify for claims against the council for personal injury.

If you have suffered an injury in a local authority-controlled place and need to know ‘what can I sue the council for?’ our advisors are ready to help you now. Their advice is free, there’s no obligation for you to proceed with the services of our panel of solicitors and it could help you decide the best way to make a claim against a council for a personal injury that should not have happened.

Call us on 0800 408 7825 or contact us through our website. You can also use the ‘live support’ option for instant guidance.

A man sitting on a pavement curb holding his knee in pain

Select A Section

  1. The Criteria For Suing the Council
  2. When Could You Claim Against The Council For An Injury?
  3. Did The Council Owe You A Duty Of Care?
  4. Limitation Periods For Injury Claims Against The Council
  5. Evidence Needed For Claims Against The Council For Personal Injury
  6. Calculating Claims Against The Council For A Personal Injury
  7. Make A No Win No Fee Claim Against The Council
  8. Related Council Accident Claims

The Criteria For Suing the Council

While you are in a public space the organisation or individual in control of that space owes you a duty of care under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. This means that they must ensure your reasonable safety while you use that space. 

So, when you are in a space that the local authority controls, such as a public park, they owe you a duty of care. If you are injured because the council failed to adhere to this, you could be eligible for personal injury compensation. 

However, you must satisfy the eligibility requirements. You must be able to prove that: 

  • You were owed a duty of care. 
  • This duty was breached. 
  • You suffered injuries as a result of this breach. 

You can speak to one of the advisors from our team about compensation claims against local councils. An advisor can also check your eligibility to claim and if it seems like you have a good case, they can connect you to one of the personal injury lawyers from our panel.

When Could You Claim Against The Council For An Injury?

Below, we look at some of the more commonly encountered accident types that a local authority could be responsible for. There may be other areas in their jurisdiction, so it’s always important to check who is truly in control of the area before making claims against the council for a personal injury. Our advisors can help you with this.

Pavement accidents

The council is responsible for the maintenance of some streets and pavements. If you can prove that you tripped and were injured on a broken paving stone or faulty curb that has been in that condition for a prolonged period of time despite being reported, the council could owe you compensation for your injuries. Generally, the defect should be more than 1inch (2.5cm).

Part of the council’s duty is to regularly risk-assess the condition of roads and highways they control to prevent this hazard.

Parks and playgrounds

Public areas can be prone to broken glass or dangerous litter. Public parks and common land can be frequented by families and small children, so an injury of this type can be particularly distressing. The council has a duty to ensure that areas such as this are well maintained and as free as reasonably practicable from any items that could injure users.

Highway and pothole accidents

Just like pavements, some roads and their maintenance come under the control of the local authority. The authority can be responsible for ensuring that streets are clear of debris, for example.

Failure to rectify tarmac faults and potholes within a reasonable time can create dangerous circumstances for road users and lead to a needless collision or vehicle damage. For example, hitting a pothole at moderate speed can be all it takes to create a neck injury.

Leisure and swimming pool accidents

Slipping and tripping in areas such as this can only be safeguarded against as much as is reasonably possible. But the local authority still needs to ensure that their facilities are safe for all to use.

Because the party in control of the place needs to ensure it as safe as reasonably practicable for use, the council could:

  • Ensure that staff are well-trained in health and safety
  • Put health and safety procedures in place
  • Reduce and remove any hazards as quickly as reasonably possible

Social care negligence

The local authority has a duty of care to the people in its community. Anyone who needs to rely on the services of a council has a right to expect that the level of care they receive will meet the correct standards.

Social services and child protective agencies must follow a strict protocol in their involvement with minors and their families or other vulnerable adults. If you can demonstrate that a breach of the duty of care of social services resulted directly in causing you or your loved one harm, you could have solid grounds for claims against the council for any resultant personal injury.

Did The Council Owe You A Duty Of Care?

Some places that are accessible to the public are run by private companies or individuals. These areas may still be subject to the Occupiers’ Liability Act but would a private party’s negligence would not lead to a personal injury claim against the council. Instead, it could lead to a claim against the private party.

Therefore, it’s essential to have clear answers to:

  • Who was in control of the area where the accident in a public place happened?
  • What caused the accident?
  • How exactly were you or a loved one injured?

If there is ambiguity about who might be liable, speak to our advisors. At Public Interest Lawyers, we can help separate the issues and clarify exactly who might be responsible for your injuries and why. We could help you further understand claims against the council for personal injury.

Limitation Periods For Injury Claims Against The Council

Those making claims against the council for a personal injury need to be aware of the time limit. Usually, you’ll need to start your personal injury claim within three years of your accident. This is dictated by the Limitation Act 1980.

However, if you are injured while under the age of 18, then this time limit is frozen. While it is frozen, a litigation friend can make the claim on your behalf. Otherwise, you can claim for yourself between your 18th and 21st birthdays.

Likewise, the time limit is irrelevant for those who lack the needed mental capacity to make their own claim. A litigation friend can make a claim on their behalf at any time. However, if they regain the capacity needed and no claim has been made, they can begin proceedings within three years of their recovery.

If you’d like to learn more about time limits in personal injury claims, contact our team of advisors today.

A cracked pavement filled with rocks and leaves

Evidence Needed For Claims Against The Council For Personal Injury

In order to be able to successfully sue a local authority and claim compensation, you will need to be able to prove that their negligence led to your injury.

To do this, you can collect evidence to support your case. This can include evidence that establishes their negligence. If possible, document or collect any material that can act as proof of the hazard that led to your injury, or proof of the council’s negligence. This can be:

  • Photos of the hazard
  • The contact details of witnesses who saw the accident happen
  • Recordings, such as CCTV footage

Claims against the council for personal injury will also require evidence of the harm you sustained. If possible, collect and maintain not just evidence of the injury, but evidence of how it is affecting you. This can come in the form of a report from an independent medical assessment. The report can highlight the severity of your injuries and the impact of them on your quality of life. Additionally, you could provide pictures of your injuries.

Other evidence you can provide could include documentation that shows any financial losses incurred due to your injuries. For example, payslips can prove any loss of earnings.

Please reach out to our team for more information about gathering evidence to support compensation claims against local councils.

Calculating Claims Against The Council For A Personal Injury

There are two potential areas of damages you could claim for when making compensation claims against local councils. One is known as general damages. This amount is based on the impact any physical and psychological injuries caused by the accident have had on your life. Aspects of your injury that will be assessed if you want to sue the local authority include: 

  • How severe your injury is. 
  • Whether any permanent symptoms have been caused. 
  • The difficulty and extensiveness of your treatment plan. 
  • How badly the injury has negatively impacted your life. 

This may be evaluated in an independent medical assessment that is often performed as part of the claims process. Your solicitor or lawyer can compare the findings of this assessment to injuries listed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG) to help calculate your general damages payout. The JCG compensation brackets are calculated by comparing previous general damages payouts to the nature of the relevant injury. 

Please refer to the list of injuries below. These figures have been taken from the latest guidelines, the sixteenth edition, published in April 2022. 

InjurySeverityJCG award bracketNotes
Multiple Severe Injuries Plus Special DamagesSevereUp to £1,000,000+A combination of multiple severe injuries alongside special damages, like lost earnings and the cost of prescriptions
Brain damageModerate (i)£150,110 to £219,070moderate to severe intellectual deficit with effect on sight, senses and speech
Hips and PelvisSevere (i) £78,400 to £130,930
badly fractured pelvis requiring surgery and spinal fusion. Substantial residual disability and bladder damage
BackSevere (ii)£74,160 to £88,430nerve root damage, loss of sensation, impaired mobility and other acute conditions
NeckSevere (iii) £45,470 to £55,990fractures, dislocations and tissue damage, ruptured tendons and chronic issues
Ankle(b) Severe£31,310 to £50,060extensive period of treatment with need for plaster cast. Increased risk of osteoarthritis
KneeSevere (iii)£26,190 to £43,460continuing pain and discomfort and the need for remedial surgery
Wrist(b)£24,500 to £39,170permanent disability resulting in restricted motion
Shoulder(b) Serious£12,770 to £19,200dislocation of the shoulder, restricted motion and weakness of grip

These figures are not guaranteed as every claim is unique. However, we can provide you with a more accurate estimate if you get in touch. To do that, we would need to understand more about your potential claim. If you’re wanting to make pothole claims against the council, for instance, please contact us for free legal advice using the details above.

Claims Against The Council For Personal Injury: Special Damages

The other area of damages you could seek compensates you for financial losses caused by your injuries. It’s called special damages. After suffering an injury in a council-run area, you may experience a whole array of unwanted additional expenses as you attempt to deal with your injuries. These can include:

  • Lost wages or missed income as you recover
  • Costs of physiotherapy or counselling if it’s not covered by the NHS
  • Medicine costs
  • Travel costs (to hospital appointments or work if you cannot currently drive, for example)
  • Domestic care costs as you recover

There could be many more examples. With the correct evidence (such as bills, receipts or invoices), you could prove how the unnecessary hazard directly injured you in a way that means you incurred all these unwanted expenses.  Special damages allow you the opportunity to claim them all back as part of your request for compensation from the council.

Make A No Win No Fee Claim Against The Council

Starting a claim against the council might feel daunting. However, working with an expert personal injury solicitor can help the process feel less complex. This is because they can use their years of experience to explain the process, along with any legal jargon that comes up. 

Our panel of solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis. They do this by working under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), which is a kind of No Win No fee agreement. Under this kind of contract, you don’t need to pay a fee upfront in order for your solicitor to start working on your claim. Likewise, if your claim doesn’t succeed, then you won’t need to pay them for their work. 

If your claim against the council is successful, then your solicitor will be due a success fee. They’ll take this themselves from your compensation as a small percentage which is usually agreed upon before the claim begins. However, this percentage is capped by law at 25% for claims made under a CFA.

Contact Our Team

Our friendly team are here to help. If you have any more questions, or if you’d like to get started with your claim against the council for a personal injury, contact us today to get started:

Related Council Accident Claims

At Public Interest Lawyers, we can offer guidance on a whole array of personal injury scenarios, including the below.

These external sources could also prove helpful:

We also have some other guides you may find useful:

Thank you for reading this guide on claims against the council for personal injury.

Article by EA

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