Why are Councils Responsible for Accidents on the Public Highway?


A pedestrian involved in an accident on the pavement in Perry Bar, Birmingham has been awarded a compensation settlement for personal injury.

Personal Injury on the Pavement

Branda Smith was walking across Wellington Road to catch a bus to her part-time job on the 8th of December, 2010. As she prepared to cross, the 50 year-old tripped and fell over a piece of defective concrete on the pavement.

Landed Heavily – Then Hospital

Mrs Smith landed heavily on her face. She was taken by ambulance to Sandwell General Hospital A&E, where X-rays determined that Mrs Smith had sustained injuries to her face, including soft tissue damage and bruising to her head.

Ligament and Cartilage Damage

Further examination revealed that she had also suffered ligament and cartilage damage to her right knee.

Acting for Mrs Smith, Simpson Millar LLP's Lisa Sheldon said: "As the local highways authority, Birmingham City Council failed to repair and maintain the road in accordance with current legislation."

Public Money Means Council Responsible

Lisa noted that under the provisions of Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, if road maintenance expenses are met from the public purse, such works are the responsibility of the relevant highway authority.

"The concrete in our Mrs Smith's path was a foreseeable hazard, and the council was negligent in failing to prevent her accident," Lisa said, adding that since the road is often used by pedestrians, it was foreseeable that the hazard had the potential to cause personal injury to any pedestrian. "Clearly the surface posed a danger to Mrs Smith."

Praise for the Work

Mrs Smith praised Simpson Millar LLP for its help. "I would like to thank Lisa Sheldon and her staff for the excellent way in which they handled my claim for injuries I received on a pathway in a public place," Mrs Smith said. "Thank you for forwarding the cheque of £1,250 in settlement of my claim."

Value of Good Legal Advice

On a more general note, of interest to anyone considering taking similar action for an incident over which they had no control, Mrs Smith added: "Talking to the right solicitors can really make you feel at ease."

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