Who's responsible if a postman trips over an unseen fence?


A trip over a makeshift wire fence – and a badly grazed leg as a result – has led to a compensation award in favour of a 52 year-old Mansfield postal worker.

Post Man injured in slip, trip and fall

Unfamiliar route

One day in July 2010, the postman was covering a colleague's shift in Westdale Road Mansfield. Since he was unfamiliar with the area, he could not have known that a makeshift fence had been erected between 2 housing association properties which comprised part of the round.

In fact, the fence which had been put up by previous tenants, was little more than a single, thin wire and was consequently very difficult to see.

A personal injury he couldn't foresee

Unaware of the hazard, the postman tripped on the wire and fell, suffering a badly grazed leg, a cut to his left hand and painful ribs.

The postman commented: "During many years of delivery work I have had my fair share of trips and falls, especially during inclement weather, and have always accepted that it is in the nature of my work to sometimes expect this."

"The difference on this day was the fact that I had never delivered to this area before and the fence dividing the pathway between the 2 maisonettes served no obvious purpose."

Owner was responsible

Given the location of the fence, responsibility for the accident clearly fell to the owners of the 2 properties it divided. So on the postman's behalf, and instructed by his union the CWU, we wrote to Leicester Housing Association.

We suspected that the housing association was responsible and had broken the law by not warning the postman, or, any other visitors, of the hazard.

An improper denial…

The man added that, during later enquiries, the owners of the property denied a fence had ever existed. "It had been removed," he explained. "I took photographs of the fence to provide proof… these were to be invaluable in my case of liability towards the owners."

…that delayed settlement

Misty Cawley of Simpson Millar LLP observed that the housing association denied responsibility from the beginning of the claim.

"But we were confident of securing a positive outcome for our client," Misty said. "We were able to do so when the defendant eventually admitted liability and made a reasonable offer to settle the claim."

Delighted with the outcome, our client extended his warm thanks for our services.

Delighted with Simpson Millar LLP

"I cannot give enough praise to all those at Simpson Millar LLP who helped with this matter and I must add everyone that I have written to and spoken to have been very professional and prompt in responding."

"I received £2,500 [in compensation] after the owners finally admitted liability and although I never intended to pursue a financial claim for my injuries, I now feel that justice has been served."

Top tips to take away:

  • Postal workers' accidents that happen in public places through no fault of their own may be the responsibility of the local authority
  • If you're hurt in a public or private place and it wasn't your fault, you could be entitled to make a personal injury claim
  • Photographic evidence of any defect that may have caused your accident can be crucial for your claim

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