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.
Select A Section
- What Are Claims Against The Council For A Personal Injury?
- When Could You Claim Against The Council For An Injury?
- Did The Council Owe You A Duty Of Care?
- Limitation Periods For Injury Claims Against The Council
- Evidence Needed For Claims Against The Council
- Calculating Claims Against The Council For A Personal Injury
- Contact A Specialist No Win No Fee Lawyer
- Related Council Accident Claims
Firstly, it’s useful to define what a personal injury is. Any kind of accident (such as a slip, trip, fall or collision with an object) that results in you suffering some form of bodily or mental harm is a personal injury.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 is a law that applies to those in control of places that are accessible to the public. This can include councils. Local authorities should protect the safety and wellbeing of visitors and members of the public whilst using an area they are in control of.
Personal injury claims can be made in a scenario where someone else had a legal duty of care to safeguard your wellbeing as much as is reasonably possible, and you were injured as a result of their breach of duty.
In the workplace, on the roads, and in public, there are laws that provide clear directives as to how others should protect your health and safety.
Local authorities are not exempt from these laws. Councils are responsible for a range of public services. A claim against the council for personal injury could be made if you can prove:
- The local authority had a duty of care
- It breached that duty, causing an incident or accident
- You suffered injury as a result
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.
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.
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.
There is a set amount of time that you have to make a personal injury claim. At the moment this ‘limitation period’ is generally three years. This can commence from the date of your accident or the date that you first became aware that negligence at least contributed to the injuries.
Furthermore, there are variations to the limitation period under certain circumstances. For example, if you are under the age of 18, the 3-year period would commence on your 18th birthday, allowing you up to age of 21 to claim. That is in the event that nobody has already claimed on your behalf.
Alternatively, certain adults can act on behalf of a minor in a personal injury claim by being a ‘litigation friend‘.
For those who lack the mental capacity to claim, a litigation friend could also act on their behalf. However, if the person recovers mental capacity, they’d have 3 years to claim from the date of their recovery and only if someone hadn’t already claimed on their behalf.
Evidence is crucial in claims against the council for personal injury. It could help strengthen your case if you can obtain the following:
- Photographic proof of the faulty equipment or road surface
- Witness contact details for statements at a later date
- CCTV footage
- Medical records
- Police reports, if appropriate
These items can be available upon request.
Local authorities may dispute that they were at fault. It’s essential to be as precise with times, dates, and evidence to win a claim against them.
When seeking compensation against a local authority, there are two areas of damages that can be calculated. The first is called general damages. These take into account the physical or emotional injury itself. This is established in a medico-legal report after an independent GP or specialist has examined you.
Their findings can be compared to injuries listed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This publication offers guidance around suitable awards to reflect the pain and suffering associated with bodily or mental harm.
By assessing you in this way, an amount of realistic compensation can be calculated for you to aim for. The compensation table below demonstrates typical examples taken from the JCG.
|injury||severity||JCG award bracket||notes|
|Brain damage||(c) Moderate (i)||£140,870 to £205,580||moderate to severe intellectual deficit with effect on sight, senses and speech|
|Neck||Severe (iii)||£42,680 to £52,540||fractures, dislocations and tissue damage, ruptured tendons and chronic issues|
|Back||(ii) Severe||£69,600 to £82,980||nerve root damage, loss of sensation, impaired mobility and other acute conditions|
|Shoulder||(b) Serious||£11,980 to £18,020||dislocation of the shoulder, restricted motion and weakness of grip|
|Wrist||(b)||£22,990 to £36,770||permanent disability resulting in restricted motion|
|Hips and Pelvis||(a) Severe (i)||£73,580 to £122,860||badly fractured pelvis requiring surgery and spinal fusion. Substantial residual disability and bladder damage|
|Knee||(a) Severe (iii)||£24,580 to £40,770||continuing pain and discomfort and the need for remedial surgery|
|Ankle||(b) Severe||£29,380 to £46,980||extensive period of treatment with need for plaster cast. Increased risk of osteoarthritis|
The figures in the compensation table above are not certain or absolute guaranteed amounts. Each claim is unique to the individual’s circumstances. Therefore, why not reach out to our advisors? They give free, no-obligation estimates of what you could claim.
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.
Suing the council for a public accident may feel daunting. What’s the best way to approach it? Anyone can start a claim for damages themselves but in cases like this, you might want the expertise and insights of a personal injury lawyer on your side.
No Win No Fee agreements can offer you instant access to good legal representation with no lawyer fees upfront or as the case moves forward. When you work with a lawyer under an agreement such as this, there is a fee to pay at the conclusion of successful cases only. There’s no lawyer fee at all if your case fails.
Our panel of solicitors offer their services on this basis. To see if our advisors could connect you with a solicitor from our panel, why not?:
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us at Public Interest Lawyers to see how we can help your claims against the council for personal injury
- Use our live chat for instant answers
At Public Interest Lawyers, we can offer guidance on a whole array of personal injury scenarios, including the below.
- Injured in an accident on public transport
- Accidents at work
- Slip and fall claim
- Crashes on a public road
These external sources could also prove helpful:
We also have some other guides you may find useful:
- Public accident claims hot spots
- Council slip and trip accidents
- Public transport accidents
- How to make a public liability claim
- Making a claim against the council
- Claiming for a pothole injury
- Making a claim against a shop
- Accidents in a public park
- Cycling accident claims
- Claiming for injuries suffered while shopping
Thank you for reading this guide on claims against the council for personal injury.
Article by EA