Pavement Accidents Cause Significant Injuries

Tripping accidents in the street happen many times every day of the week, people tripping and falling on uneven pavements, and the accidents frequently result in the accident victims suffering broken bones, such as fractured wrists, broken elbows, and also facial injuries.

The Highways Act 1980 places the highway authority, usually the city council or county council, under a legal obligation to maintain and repair pavements in a safe condition with the aim of limiting the number of street accidents.A� If the council fails to maintain or repair the surface of a pavement and the uneven surface causes a person to trip or lose their footing and fall then a compensation claim can be made to the council.

The courts have not set any fixed criteria or test for pavement tripping accidents to decide whether a council has failed to fulfil its legal obligation to maintain pavements in a safe condition.A� However, one test that a court will apply to a pavement tripping compensation claim in deciding whether the council has failed to meet its legal duties, is to ask whether the defect in the surface of the pavement that caused the tripping accident was obviously a very real danger to pedestrians.A� Therefore, a court will not just consider the size of the defect in the surface of the pavement, but also its location in the pavement, whether it is partly hidden beneath an overhanging hedge or in the main thorough-fare where most people walk.A�The court will also consider the locality of the place where the accident happened, for instance, whether it was a busy street with shops, or a quiet road on the edge of a housing estate.

In a compensation claim against Leeds City Council the accident victim fell on the pavement after her foot became caught in a gap about 2 A? inches wide that was between two kerbing stones on the edge of the pavement.A� The Court of Appeal awarded compensation to the accident victim on the basis that the gap in the kerbing stones was a real danger to pedestrians because it was in a place where people would walk and the gap was wide enough to cause a hazard.

Court of Appeal decision:A� Winterhalder v Leeds City
Council