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Occupier's Liability

How can you make a claim for compensation?

If you are involved in an accident on someone else's property (which could be the street, a shop, a housing estate or any public place such as a park), you may be entitled to compensation from the 'occupier' of that property.

If you were injured on someone else's premises, whether because of uneven paving slabs, slippery surfaces or falling objects, the 'occupier' of the premises may be responsible for your injuries.

The 'occupier' is usually the person, council or company, landlord or tenant who has 'control' over the premises/land where you were injured.

Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, an occupier must take reasonable care to ensure that 'visitors' to his/her premises/land are safe when they are on their premises/land.

'You are a 'visitor' if you have permission to be on the premises/land.'

Permission may be given expressly e.g. by invitation to visit the premises or, alternatively, you might have had permission if you had a legitimate reason to be there e.g. you were visiting a friend's house or you were at school or you were a workman on the premises, you were making a delivery or you simply went there to ask directions.

Even if you were not a 'visitor' i.e. you did not have permission to be on the premises/land, you may still have a claim. A child may not have had permission to be on the premises/land but may have been attracted onto the property because of something which was alluring to him or her. In the case of a child who enters a property or premises without permission, the 'occupier' of the land/premises has a higher degree of duty to protect him/her against such an allurement which caused him or her to be on their premises or land and subsequently injured.

If you wish to make a claim against the council for failing to maintain the highway or footpath making such a claim encompasses one of the most complex areas of law.

The good news is that the other side is always insured.

The bad news is that the law gives the council a defence to your claim if they can show they operated a reasonable system of inspection and repair of the highway.

If you want one of our specialist lawyers to fight your case, please call us now on 0800 0747 644 for a free, no obligation assessment.

What is, or what is not a reasonable system?

This would depend on the area, local conditions and many other factors. So if the council can show that they have a system of regular inspections and maintenance in place for the place where your accident occurred they are able to avoid being liable for any accidents and injuries resulting from defects in the highways.

So, for example, they are not liable for a trip, slip or fall as soon as a defect occurs in a pavement, but only if they fail to repair it within a reasonable time once it has been reported, or when it should have been discovered through a reasonable maintenance regime. Records must be kept of such maintenance and must be available for inspection.

The question then becomes "What is a reasonable condition?" It is, unfortunately, a matter of degree, and each case will turn on its specific facts, e.g. weather, lighting, age of those involved, nature of the defect, warning signs or lack of them, and whether the person concerned contributed to the accident by not noticing a particularly large defect. It will depend on the type and size of the defect, if it has caused other accidents, where it is located (i.e. outside an old people's home, school or hospital will be more dangerous then on a residential footpath) and any other relevant factors.

In the case of of roads and pavements, resources should be committed by the council to maintaining them in reasonable condition. Paving will never be completely flat and the law says that pedestrians must do what they can to avoid obvious hazards.

If the problem was not a defect in the highway but some obstruction or work being carried out on the highway, then potential liability is likely to rest with the person or organisation that is carrying out the work or who caused the obstruction.

If you want one of our specialist lawyers to fight your no win, no fee case, please call us now on 0800 0747 644 for a free, no obligation assessment of your case.