It would seem that our summer is now over and we are making our way into Autumn. The leaves are going brown, the weather is turning and temperatures are plummeting, as such the potential for accidents begins to rise.
Sadly, this time of year causes many accidents due to events such as the build-up of wet leaves. When leaves build up on the pavements they can not only be very slippery but can also hide any potential hazards such as pot-holes or uneven pavement surfaces. We are often asked whether you can make a personal injury claim if you slip on wet leaves or tripped over the defective pavement underneath. Unfortunately, the answer is not straight forward.
Land owned by the local authority
If the area in which you fell is owned by a local authority your claim will be unlikely to succeed. The Courts have decided that it is unreasonable to expect a local authority to remove leaves from every single footpath or road. Under section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, the Highway Authority has a responsibility to ensure “so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by wet leaves. Although Local Authorities have a responsibility to ensure that paths and highways are kept in a good state of repair, in the event of an accident the local authority is judged by the Courts on what is reasonable. The presence of leaves is unlikely to be enough for a Judge to find the local authority at fault.
Privately owned land
However, if you suffer an accident on privately owned land such as a car park, hotel, shop, leisure centre etc, the law imposes a higher duty of care on the owner of the land under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957. The Court would look at the circumstances and decide whether or not the owner of the land acted reasonably, whether there was a significant danger which they could prevent and any other facts surrounding the claim.
The above also applies if you have slipped or fallen on snow and ice.
If you are unfortunate enough to slip on wet leaves, it is always important to ensure you report the incident to either the local authority or the owner of the private premises. You should also always obtain details of any potential witnesses and take photographs. These types of claims are notorious for being difficult to win and it is important therefore to obtain as much evidence as possible at the outset.
Should you, or anyone you know have suffered injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, please contact us on 0114 218 4000 or email email@example.com