Compensation Claims for Highway Trips

Local Authorities have an obligation to maintain public roads and pavements in a safe condition. Should they fail to do so and you sustain injury as result, you may be entitled to claim personal injury compensation.

Having said this, claims against Local Authorities are often difficult to pursue because of the limited nature of the obligations imposed upon them under the Highways Act.

Before a Court will impose liability on a Local Authority you must be able to prove that your injury arose because the pavement or road was in a ‘dangerous’ condition and that the danger arose because the Local Authority had failed to comply with its obligations under the Highways Act.

A highway is the collective term used for roads and pavements. The law recognises that Local Authorities have limited budgets and that as a consequence roads and pavements will not always be in a perfect condition. Accordingly in most circumstances a pavement will not be considered as ‘dangerous’ when the difference in levels is less than 26 mm (1 inch). Potholes in a road are unlikely to be considered dangerous where they measure less than 40 mm in depth.

Under the Highways Act the Local Authority is obliged to carry out regular inspections of the highway and where it is found to be in a dangerous condition, undertake repairs within a reasonable time. What will be considered a reasonable time interval between each inspection will vary depending upon the amount of traffic that uses the highway and also whether it is commonly used by vulnerable individuals such as children or the elderly. Major roads and pavements close to shops, schools, hospitals and care homes will require more frequent inspections than minor roads in a less built-up area.

Similarly, what would be considered a reasonable time within which to undertake a repair will depend upon the severity of the hazard and the amount of traffic that uses that particular highway.

Accordingly should a Court be satisfied that the Local Authority had an effective system of inspection and maintenance in place a claim for personal injury compensation may still fail even where it is accepted that the hazard which caused the trip or fall was ‘dangerous’. This is because the Court is likely to accept that the highway was not in a ‘dangerous’ condition at the time of the last inspection. Where the Local Authority cannot provide evidence that there was a reasonable and effective system of inspection and maintenance, the claim should succeed providing you can establish that the highway was in a ‘dangerous’ condition at the time of your accident.

Different rules will apply if the maintenance of the road, pavement or communal area was not the responsibility of the Local Authority. For more information see Slips and Trips in a Public Place.  

At Sintons our personal injury specialists have a wealth of experience in pursuing accident compensation claims and can advise you fully on such matters.

All personal injury claims are pursued on a No Win No Fee basis so you can rest assured that there is no financial risk.

To begin a personal injury compensation claim or obtain further advice with no obligation contact Sintons 24/7.