Unsafe Steps Result In Long-Term Loss Of Amenity


The Law Of... claiming compensation after a fall

While we are out in public places, we expect that our local area will be in a sufficient state of repair to ensure that we do not come into harm.

Unsafe Steps Result In Fall and Personal Injury Claim

Unfortunately, one of our clients discovered this was not always the case and suffered significant long-lasting injuries after he fell on a dangerous step while completing daily errands.

Jonathan Thursby – Solicitor on Simpson Millar's Personal Injury team – took up the case and successfully sought a claim that compensated our client for the significant effect the fall had on his daily life.

Steps To Underpass In Poor Condition

During a visit to a local shop, our client was descending stairs into an underpass. The stairs had three flights and when our client reached the third a step gave way, causing him to fall forward and sustain significant injury.

The steps were in a poor state of repair and the edges were crumbling away, which caused our client's fall.

Jonathan was able to argue that the local County Council were liable for the accident under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and the Highways Act 1980. The County Council was responsible for maintaining the steps and they had a duty of care to ensure that our client was reasonably safe whilst using the steps.

We were able to successfully able to argue that the County Council failed their common duty of care to our client, specifically they:

  • Allowed the staircase, which was wholly defective and unsafe, to be available to use by members of the public
  • Failed to cordon off the unsafe step or place any warnings that the steps may be in a poor condition
  • Failed to regularly inspect and maintain the staircase to an acceptable level
  • Exposed our client to a risk of injury due to their negligence

Long-Term Treatment For Injuries

Our client experienced pain immediately after his fall, however when he attended a local hospital and underwent an X-Ray on the worst affected area – his right shoulder (although both shoulders were in pain) – no broken bones were found.

It became clear that our client had suffered a soft tissue injury in the immediate aftermath of the fall, however his condition continued to deteriorate and a course of painkillers did not help manage the pain.

Our client had a number of appointments with medical professionals, one of whom administered a steroid injection to help manage pain.

Around eight months after his initial fall, our client underwent an ultrasound scan, as his pain was not subsiding. It was found that he had torn a ligament in his shoulder.

Appointments continued for a full 10 months after the fall, and a whole year and six months after the incident, our client underwent keyhole surgery on his right shoulder. The surgery and subsequent exercises improved our client's condition.

Over two years after the accident an NHS Consultant explained that whilst the rotary cuff tears that our client suffered on both shoulders were not caused by the accident, the accident had aggravated symptoms.

Seeking Compensation

Aside from the long-term pain and discomfort caused by our client's shoulder injuries, one of the core themes for his compensation claims was a loss of amenity.

Generally speaking, compensation claims are broken down into two sections:

  • Compensation for personal injury, suffering, loss of amenity and any other physical or psychological harm caused by an accident
  • Compensation for any direct financial loss caused by an accident, whether this be through a loss of earnings or through expenses associated with treatment and medication

In this case, our client suffered a great loss of amenity, as his injuries caused him to lose some of his independence and his wife had to effectively administer personal care, dressing and washing our client until his injuries recovered to the point that allowed free movement.

The injury also made it difficult for our client to partake in his regular activities and found it difficult to drive or ride a bicycle as usual, which led to him using public transport more frequently than before his accident.

Our client's regular holiday trips were also affected by the accident, as he could no longer partake in caravan holidays with his wife as he had done before his accident; this was due to the physical exertion related to an active touring holiday.

Explaining the case, Jonathan said:

"This case highlights that the effects of an accident can go beyond the immediate injury, as my client expressed how his daily life and usual routine had been adversely affected by the advancement of painful symptoms in both of his shoulders."

"From driving, to cycling, all the way through to his regular holiday plans with his wife, our client's life was seriously impacted by the Council's failure to maintain the steps to a safe condition."

"Our client was delighted with the outcome of his case and I was happy to help him receive compensation for his physical injuries and financial losses."

"Following the accident, the Council fixed the steps so other members of the public should not suffer the same unfortunate fate as our client. Hopefully the Council has improved their maintenance practices so other accidents like this don't take place."

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