Local solicitors experienced in claiming compensation for accidents on someone’s property
Accidents on someone’s property require input from specialist solicitors. Contact us for a free case assessment and details of No Win, No Fee funding.
Accidents on someone’s property or land are very common, and form a major part of our personal injury caseload. Lawyers call these cases “occupiers’ liability claims”. They include a wide range of accident situations, ranging from the customer who slips on a grape in a supermarket, to a child injured at a play-centre, to the unwitting passer-by who gets hit by debris falling from a building site. These cases even extend to the young lad hurt while playing in an abandoned building.
If you suffer injury in an accident on someone’s property or land and would like to know if you have a claim for compensation then just contact us for a free assessment of your case. We should be able to give you an immediate indication as to whether the claim is worth pursuing on a No Win – No Fee basis.
The law that regulates occupiers’ liability claims can be quite complex. It is always best to consult with a specialist lawyer, but here is a brief overview of the legal position:
Claimants in occupiers’ liability cases can be divided into two main categories; “lawful visitors” and “trespassers”. The former are entitled to be there; the latter are not. Broadly speaking, the 1957 Occupiers Liability Act deals with accidents involving lawful visitors, whilst the 1984 Occupiers Liability Act deals with accidents involving trespassers.
The law requires “occupiers” of land and premises to take reasonable care for the safety those who are on it. “Occupier” means anyone in control of the land, or building. It applies to pubs, restaurants, shops, sports grounds, theme parks, warehouses, residential homes, schools, car parks, etc. The definition can even cover ships, hovercraft, scaffolding and quaysides, so the scope is very wide. The occupier might be a local authority, a commercial business or an individual.
The occupier has a legal duty is to take such care as is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which he is invited or permitted to be there. As so often in law, there is much use of the word “reasonable”, which simply means that the law does not give a rigid set of rules for every conceivable situation, but intends that a broad principle should be applied sensibly to each case.
The Act specifically states that an occupier must be prepared for children to be less careful that adults.
To protect visitors occupiers need to do whatever is reasonable to reduce any risks of an accident or injury occurring. For example, a supermarket should regularly checks the shop-floor for spillages and make sure its staff are instructed to take action immediately if any are found, so as to minimise the risk of trips or slips. There should be written records to show that safety policies not only exist, but have been followed.
So, a play centre should for instance have a policy for keeping an eye not only on the structure of the play area itself, but on the behaviour of the children in it and actually do something about any shortcomings that are highlighted. The company renovating a listed building on the high street should ensure that precautions are taken to prevent debris from the works falling on passers-by and causing injury.
If removing or reducing the risk of injury is not possible, then the occupier should make sure that the the risk is clearly and specifically pointed out to those who come onto the land. It is not enough, for instance, for an occupier to erect a general “Beware” sign, though every case has to be looked at individually.
Incidentally, a sign which says, “We do not accept responsibility for injury caused on these premises,” has no legal effect at all. If the occupier is legally liable for an accident, then they are liable, regardless of the sign. Such signs are often found on premises occupied by local authorities, breweries and big commercial companies and they, of all people, ought to know better. So if you have suffered injury where such a sign has been displayed then please don’t let that put you off claiming compensation for the accident.
People who are injured when they were not entitled to be on the premises can also claim compensation, though the law deals with these claims a little differently. The claims are not limited trespassers, but also people using a private right of way and even people visiting National Parks. If an occupier knows of a danger on their land then they will be expected to take precautions. So, it is not enough for a quarrying company near a known picnic spot to put up a sign warning of a deep pit, but not fence it.
In short, we are all entitled to assume that the places we visit are reasonably safe, though we in turn have a responsibility to use our own common sense while we are there; and even more so if we are somewhere we know we should not really be.