Could Householder have Prevented a Postman's Injury?

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A postal worker who fell over a householder's defective coal cellar cover as he delivered mail has been awarded £7,500 compensation.

Accident Report

Fell Through Hole without Warning


Back in November 2010, the postman was on his 'walk' in a residential street in Walton, Liverpool. Heading up a pathway to one property, he was obliged to step on a coal cellar cover in front of the door to make his delivery.

However, the cover gave way as he stepped on it and caused him to fall, badly hurting his right leg.

Infected after Fall


At first the postman sustained soft tissue injuries, along with lacerations and grazing to his right leg. However, these abrasions became infected shortly after the accident and required antibiotic treatment.

The postman also sustained injuries to his back, his left shoulder and his elbow, and for about a week after the incident he suffered shock and nausea.

Householder at Fault


Instructed by the postman's union, the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Simpson Millar LLP's Misty Cawley wrote to the householder alleging a number of breaches of statutory duties, basically meaning that they were at fault due to failures in their property's safety.

"As occupiers of the property, they had failed to provide safe access for the postman and neglected to properly maintain their coal cellar cover," Misty said. "Given there were no barriers or warning signs in place to alert visitors to the danger, the owners had clearly exposed him to a risk of injury that was foreseeable in the circumstances."

Denied Responsibility for 3 Years


"The householders refused to accept responsibility for more than 3 years," Misty noted. "Court proceedings were issued and we arranged for the postman to be examined by an independent medical expert."

"Despite providing photographs of the defective cover and acknowledging that it had been replaced shortly after the accident, the owner maintained that the cover had been replaced due to theft and not because of the defect."

"However, no evidence was provided to support this and the householder eventually conceded. We achieved an amicable compensation settlement for the postman of £7,500."

Top tips to take away:


  • Householders must make sure that any defect on their property which could present risks to visitors is clearly identified – or, better still, fixed as soon as it's discovered
  • If you're injured on someone's private property and it's not your fault, the property owner is probably liable to pay compensation


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