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The Tale Of Mr B & His Tripping Claim

View profile for SherReene Cheah
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Mr B had had a busy day at work. He was tired and all he wanted was to get home and climb into his bed for a good night's sleep ready for a new day.  Unfortunately, whilst he was walking home along the path, he tripped over a raised paving and fell on to his knees.  After the initial shock, he managed to stand up and hobbled home.  He did not think that he had badly injured his knees.  He thought that they were just bruised and, after a period of time, they would recover.  That did not happen.  In fact, the pain in his knees worsened.  He attended the hospital only to be told that the fall had damaged his knee cap.  His doctor told him that he would have to undergo surgery.  He duly underwent surgery and approximately two years after the accident, his knee eventually recovered.


A couple of months following the accident, Mr B came in to see us.  We submitted a claim on his behalf to the Council, which, following an investigation, informed us that they had a system of inspection and maintenance of the highway in place at the time of the accident and therefore relied upon the “Section 58 defence”.  Councils owe the public a duty to inspect and maintain public highways.  To be able to utilise the statutory defence, a Council must be able to show, often by records, that it had in place, at the time of the accident, a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance. 


In Mr B's claim, following the Council's denial of liability, we were provided with inspection and maintenance records of the footpath Mr B was walking along the night of the accident.  We considered all the records and noted the Council had indeed carried out an inspection of the pathway and had marked the raised paving stone for repair.  The Council had then received a complaint from Mr B's neighbour, a few days before Mr B's accident, about a pothole directly across the street from the raised paving that had caused Mr B's accident.  They inspected and repaired the pothole but left the raised paving unrepaired. Is this reasonable?  We argued that it was not.  The Council should have repaired the raised paving stone at the same time as they repaired the pothole across the street.  Had they done so, Mr B would not have had his accident. 


Following months of deliberation, the Council finally accepted full responsibility for the accident.  Of course, every case is fact dependent.  Tripping claims are notoriously difficult.  However, at Tilly, Bailey & Irvine, we have the experience necessary to deal with tripping claims.  We know what to look out for.  Come and talk to our team or use our quick and easy online tool to calculate a possible claim.