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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71146
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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After an accident in early September last year my son approached

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After an accident in early September last year my son approached a company who advertised a 'no win no fee' policy. He tripped over an uneven pavement and struck his head on a public house sign which was significantly away from the building. He was taken to hospital as he had a cut close to his nose/eye and was also diagnosed with concussion. The following day he returned to the scene of his accident and whilst there taking photos of the very badly repaired pavement, he was approached by an officer of Westminster Council. When my son explained what he was doing, the individual replied that he should take the matter up with the public house as their sign was not in the correct place. This individual was obviously marking up the pavement for repair at that very same time.

My son had a discussion with the solicitors, forwarded them details of the incident, together with photos. He received a letter in early November indicating that the matter was being put to Westminster Council and that they would have 40 days in which to respond. The claim was regarded as a 'low value personal injury'.

My son has today been advised that the likelihood of him having a successful claim is less than 50% and therefore they are not prepared to proceed. Additionally, asking him to prove such things as the level of the paving slabs etc. He is obviously aggrieved and feels he has just been led up the garden path as initially they were much more positive about his chances of making a claim. It seems to me that Westminster Council and other such bodies are ALWAYS going to refute claims. My son feels, as do I, that these insurance companies are being dishonest in their claims.

Is it possible that he has any redress to this situation? Or, as I suspect, there is nowhere for him to go now after such a period of time?

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

How deep was the pavement defect that he tripped on?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

As I remember the pavement had been repaired with tarmac and was uneven. I am not exactly sure how deep the indentations were but it was also a wet day and the surface was slippery.

Thanks for the information and the time.

I am sorry but I cannot give you good news then. I’m afraid you are in difficulty here.

I am actually very surprised that your son found anyone to take a local authority trip claim on. There is lots of case law on these.

Unless what he tripped on had an edge which was 25 mm high or more and he has proof of that, in the form of a photograph or independent witness, his claim will fail.

There is another issue which is fatal to his claim and that is that if the local authority they inspected this way a while ago they can rely on what is called a section 58 events which basically says that they have discharged their duty by inspecting the area.

How often is reasonable would really depend on how busy the pavement/area was.

In the middle of town, three months is probably reasonable.

In a rural area, 12 months would be okay.

If the local authority produce their records showing that the area had been inspected and was okay at the last inspection, their defence succeeds.

The judges will believe the local authority records categorically unless you can prove that they have been falsified.

The reason that solicitors will not take this on is quite simply in the last few years, more of these claims have failed than have succeeded and it is no longer possible unless the evidence is clear, to get insurance to pay legal costs in the event that the claimant loses.

I’m sorry that this is bad news but I do have to advise you honestly

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

That should read S58 defence not events above. That is a dictation error.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Thanks Jo for coming back so quickly. Your reply is very full and I am just cross on behalf of my son that this information was not relayed to him six months ago as you state that there is much case law on this subject.


I think it is dishonest of the original company to say they will take on a case when there is no real chance of making a successful claim. One wonders if they actually listen to the information they are given, as my son clearly outlined what had happened and had photographic evidence of the scene. If you can give this information in the space of 20 minutes, why has it taken them six months and 3 changes of solicitor to come to the same conclusion!


I have sent him the information and your reply. Thank you

Yes, I do understand!

No problem and all the best.

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