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I was injured on a public footpath – how do I claim compensation?

We all know that we’re supposed to fit exercise into our daily life, and with the recent pandemic, a lot of us have been limited to exercising in our local neighbourhoods, whether going for walks, runs or riding bikes.

So, what happens if you are injured on a public footpath while out and about in your local neighbourhood? Do you have any legal rights to make a claim for compensation after a fall?

Injured on a public footpath

Tripping over is an inconvenience at the best of times, however falling on a footpath can result in injuries spanning from painful yet minor to broken bones, head injuries or spinal injuries. If these injuries were the result of someone else’s actions or negligence, you may have a claim for compensation.

How do I claim against my local council for an injury?

To make a public place injury claim, or public liability claim, you need to establish that your injuries were the result of another person’s negligence. Proving negligence in the case of a public footpath injury can be a bit tricky though as local councils, who are usually in charge of footpath maintenance and related matters, are heavily protected under the relevant laws.

This often means that there must have been blatant negligence on behalf of the council to make a successful compensation claim after being injured on a public footpath (for example, if the council knew about a hazard and had failed to address it).

As footpaths are classed as a public area, there is a legal expectation that you are taking due care while walking, riding or running. This means that contributory negligence is taken into account, i.e. if your own behaviour or negligence contributed to your fall and resulting injury (for example, if you were looking at your mobile phone instead of paying attention to your surroundings).

It’s best to seek legal advice as soon as possible after you’ve been injured on a public footpath, as a public liability lawyer will be able to assess your situation and advise you of your legal options.

What can I claim compensation for?

Generally, if you were injured on a public footpath, you can make a compensation claim for your physical and psychological injuries and losses. Compensation can be for both past and future losses and can include:

  • Medical and hospital costs;
  • Loss of income;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Help you received at home, whether paid or unpaid.

The compensation you receive is based on the severity of your injuries and how they have impacted your life.

What to do if you were injured on a public footpath

  • If you are able, take photos of the footpath and surrounding area to document the hazard / condition of the site and what caused the accident. If possible, include something in the picture that demonstrates the size of the defect or hazard;
  • Keep a record of medical reports that detail your injuries and the treatment required;
  • Keep copies of medical receipts and invoices;
  • Try to find out if the local council was aware of the defect and whether any prior complaints had been made to the council about the hazard (local Facebook pages or speaking to locals may help); and
  • Seek legal advice as soon as you are able.

Shine Lawyers can help

If you have been injured on a public footpath or in a public place, get in touch with Shine Lawyers’ Public Liability Claims experts. Our dedicated team have helped clients to seek compensation against local councils and other organisations and can advise you of your rights and entitlements. Contact us today for an obligation-free consultation.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 2, 2020.

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