Tripping and slipping claims are most frequently brought against a highway authority responsible for maintaining a highway at public expense. Under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, a highway authority is liable to maintain as a public highway and this includes the pavement and the roadway. However, the highway authority will be able to successfully defend the claim if the highway authority has taken such care as is reasonable to see that the highway is not dangerous to pedestrians or traffic.
If you are considering bringing a claim for a pavement tripping accident, it would be necessary to prove:-
- That part of the highway was not reasonably safe. There is a “rule of thumb” that a defect of about an inch is likely to be considered unsafe.
- The defect in the highway caused the accident.
- There is no adequate system of inspection and maintenance in force, or, if the pavement was inspected, the inspection was done carelessly. For this reason, it is often necessary to prove how long the defect has existed for.
However, sometimes an accident can be caused by a utility company responsible for phone, gas, water or electricity cables and pipes, excavated the pavement or roadway and who carried out their work negligently.
Tripping and slipping accidents do not necessarily always occur on the highway. Such accidents can occur in shops or office premises, or on land open to the public – parks are a good example – and upon land or in a building which you have to visit as part of your employment.
It can be necessary in such cases to also consider:-
- Occupier’s Liability (see Claims Involving Land and Buildings)
- Health and Safety at Work (Accident at Work)