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Covid-19 & Personal Injury Claims: take care during your daily 30 minutes exercise

During the current lockdown, many of us – even those that don’t normally exercise, are finding a way to take advantage of the 30 minutes of fresh air a day that we are allowed.

Some are already regular runners, walkers or cyclists… Some of us are lucky enough to have a dog to walk (and those pooches are probably pretty tired of each family member walking them!) … The rest of us may be using this opportunity to exercise for the first time in a very long time, and may be in slightly unfamiliar territory.

Unfortunately walking, running or cycling on areas you’ve not ventured before means you are at a higher risk of an accident occurring. You don’t know where the pot holes are, or how low or high that curb is when you are crossing the street… All it takes is one momentary glance at that beautifully quiet park, and you may find yourself with a sprained ankle, torn knee ligament or worse… a fractured or broken bone.

On that note, we want to express how important it is that you take extreme care! This is not the time to be putting added pressure on our extremely valuable NHS staff and, for your own safety, it is not the time for you to need to be visiting your local A&E. 

But accidents, by definition do happen, no matter how careful you may try to be.

Many people do not realise that when they have an accident in a public place they may be able to make a claim for their injuries suffered. If the accident is as a result of the roads or paths being in a state of disrepair then the Local Authority may be held accountable.

In order to establish liability there are two elements that we must prove, these are breach of duty and causation. To establish a breach of duty, there must first be a duty of care, the Local Authority have a duty of care to members of the public and in order to fulfil their duty they must ensure that public places are maintained to a safe and reasonable standard. If not then they are likely to be in breach of their duty.

When a breach of duty has been established, it must be proven that the personal injury suffered by an individual was as a result of the Local Authority’s breach of duty. If the individual can successfully prove this then causation is established.

Claims are often successful where the Local Authority neglect to repair potholes in the road and on public paths which lead to members of the public falling and injuring themselves. The level of compensation that an individual may be entitled to will be determined by the severity of their injuries, as the general aim is to put the injured party in the same position as they would have been in if the accident had not occurred. The more serious the injury, the more money they are likely to be entitled to as part of their claim.

The Local Authority may have a defence to a claim if they can prove in accordance with S58 Highways Act 1980 that they took reasonable care to ensure that the road in question was not dangerous for traffic. The court will have regard to a number of factors including the type of highway, the standard of repair expected and whether the Local Authority knew or should have known that it was likely to cause danger to users of the highway.

One should not assume that their accident is an unfortunate coincidence where nobody is to blame. If steps could have been taken to prevent the accident that occurred, then compensation may be available.

We recommend, whenever possible that you do the following to document your accident and help us determine if you may have a valid injury claim.

  1. Take photos of the pothole on path or road – and ideally place something next to it so that the height and width of the hole can be determined. Your shoe, a pen, a phone… something that you can later produce exact measurements of.
  2. Take photos of your injury, both immediately after the accident and throughout the healing process.
  3. Keep a journal. Log daily your symptoms and the level of pain you experienced. Costs to you for pain medicine, taxi’s to GPs or aids such as crutches. Time your family or friends spent helping you do things you would have normally done such as cooking, shopping or house cleaning. Time you had to take off work. Any other events you had to cancel due to the injury and if there was a cost related to that cancellation.

Individuals should seek advice from a member of our Personal Injury Team if they have had an accident that was due to a pot hole or poorly maintained public road or public path. Although during this lockdown our physical office is closed, our teams are all working safely and securely from their homes, so you can still ring us on 01623468468 or enquire on the form below and a member of our team will advise you over the phone on what steps to take next. 

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