Your rights if you’re injured in a public place

Guest Postpublic liabilityThe owner, manager or proprietor of a public place is legally obliged to ensure that the place, when it is accessible by the public, is safe and free from risk. This duty of care requires there to be a certain level of cleanliness, tidiness and warning of potential hazards.

What is defined as a public place?
Supermarkets, parks, pubs, schools, etc. all are designated public places. Essentially, any person that allows members of the public onto their premises has a duty of care to take reasonable responsibility for their safety whilst on their premises.

Even public footpaths and roads are considered public places, as they are owned, managed and maintained by the council. Hence, if an accident is the fault of a poorly maintained footpath, it is the council’s responsibility, or lack of duty of care.

All owners or management of public places are expected to have public liability insurance. If compensation is sought, much like a car insurance policy, funds are paid from the insurer to the victim.

The thin line between liability
It is often difficult to know whether you’re in a public place. Is that footpath council owned, or is it a private property? Is the car park part of the supermarket or are they only liable when shopping inside the store, and what about the entrances and doorways? Plenty of accidents take place on escalators, at doors, emergency exits or on stairwells, so is the manager liable?

In the legal sense of the term, a public place is anywhere which is privately or publically owned, and, either by direct, expressed or implied invitation is accessible by the public. On the other hand, places which are used exclusively by individuals or groups for personal purposes are not defined as public places.

The importance of signs
Hazards in public places are unavoidable; people will always spill things, move items and generally cause dangerous situations for other visitors. However, it is how the management deals with such a situation which can cause more of an issue. We’ve all noticed ‘caution wet floor’ signs and similar warnings when out and about, but these are vital to ensure the management is safe from liability should an accident happen. Any spillage should be cleaned and warned of, similar with debris being removed promptly and all hazards being addressed. That way, the general public is aware of, and will avoid, possible accidents.

Many accident claims are down to the fact that the management of a public space has not taken sufficient steps to warn the public of a hazard.

Your right to make a claim
If you were harmed in a public place, in an accident which was no fault of your own, you’re entitled to make a claim for compensation. An owner’s public liability insurance is in place to deal with such claims. A good solicitor will help you to decide whether it was a public place and whether you’re eligible to claim, so after an injury it helps to detail as much information as possible.

A court case, and any financial settlement received by the victim, will help to address the serious issues poor health and safety in a public place can cause. Often, slips, trips and falls cause terrible injuries and further implications for an individual, for example, being unable to work for a long time, extensive rehabilitation or having to rely on family and carers to support the home and family. Compensation will help considerably to cover these costs, leaving a victim free to recover at their own pace.

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