Pedestrian's trip on zebra crossing costs TfL nearly £1,600 compensation


After a catalogue of disputes which saw 3 different organisations potentially liable for damages, Transport for London (TfL) has settled a compensation claim for a woman who tripped on a pothole on a north London pedestrian crossing.

Pothole in the road

At around 11am on 29 June 2011, the pedestrian was on the way to her bank via a zebra crossing sited at the junction of Blackstock Road and Rock Street, near Finsbury Park.

Pothole was hard to see

As she crossed, the 58 year-old tripped on a pothole, which was slightly obscured by the black and white design of the zebra crossing, and fell forward.

She suffered a series of painful injuries. Shocked for several days, she found herself unable to perform simple domestic tasks for some 3 weeks after the accident.

A subsequent medical report revealed a laceration and bruising to her left leg, soft tissue and ligament damage to her right wrist and muscular damage to her back.

Compensation case was clear

This was a clear case of a breach of common law duty of care. The victim had been exposed to a foreseeable risk of injury which the responsible party knew or ought to have known was present, there was no barrier erected nor warning of hazard, and if any system of inspection was in place, it had clearly failed.

The question was, who was liable? We wrote first to the relevant local authority, which argued that Transport for London was responsible for the maintenance of the road.

But the transport authority disputed liability, contending that the defect had been caused by works by Thames Water to the location's ageing water mains.

We then directed the claim to Thames Water. However, the water company in turn denied responsibility, based on records that showed the works it had carried out in the area were further along Blackstock Road and some way from the site of the accident.

Failure to maintain highway beyond doubt

So we reverted to Transport for London. At last we were able to prove beyond doubt that the defect had been caused by TfL's failure to maintain the highway. Liability finally conceded, TfL proposed compensation of £1,287.92, which we were able to negotiate upwards by another £250.

Pleased with our service

"I was very pleased with [Simpson Millar LLP's] service," our client said after settlement was finally agreed. "They were very helpful and answered my questions very well."

Our client added that anyone who is involved in an accident for which a claim is appropriate should contact Simpson Millar LLP without delay.

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