Council to blame for pothole that led to Personal Injury claim


One of our clients has won a substantial compensation claim payout after a bad fall when he caught his foot in a pothole on the street.

John Archbold was 57 years old and had just seen his team, Everton, win 4-1 at Goodison Park in April 2007. Walking to his car after the match at 9.30pm through the pedestrianised area outside the ground, Mr Archbold stepped aside to allow other fans walking towards him past, and immediately found himself face down in pain and shock – he had stepped straight into an unseen pothole on a dark and poorly lit street.

Feeling embarrassed, when others came to his aid, Mr Archbold claimed to be alright, despite realising his right shoulder was probably dislocated. Not wanting to disturb his wife back at home in Manchester, Mr Archbold decided to drive home from Liverpool as best he could. Arriving home in excruciating pain, Mr Archbold called for his wife who insisted on a trip to A&E. X-rays showed that the shoulder was dislocated, and it was relocated that evening. He also had a triple fracture to the shoulder bones.

Shoulder Injury following a falling accident

Released with a collar, cuff and painkillers, it was even mentioned that Mr Archbold may have to have the bones pinned back together, but a specialist ruled that surgery wouldn’t be necessary.

However he did need to undergo physiotherapy, paid for a helpful course of acupuncture himself and experienced some stiffness and discomfort at work as a supervisor loading and unloading deliveries.

Medical experts have assessed that Mr Archbold is now at increased risk of developing arthritis in the shoulder joint and may even need a joint replacement in just a few years’ time.

But why was he able to successfully claim compensation for a fall in a public place?

Local councils are responsible for the safety of the public on their highways in accordance with the Highways Act 1980. They must implement a regular and reasonable system of inspection and ensure maintenance to keep the public safe. When Mr and Mrs Archbold returned to Liverpool for another Everton game, they were able to locate the exact place of the fall due to its position outside a distinctive house on the street. As advised, they took photographs of the pothole on two occasions, and a local resident informed them the hole had "been there for years".

There was no street lighting, with the only light coming from the football ground’s floodlights at the exit. By August 2007 the pothole had been (shoddily) repaired.

Liability was denied by the Council on the basis that they did have a system of inspection and they attempted to cast doubts on Mr Archbold’s credibility. Litigation Executive, Emma Roberts of Simpson Millar LLP had to prove that Mr Archbold’s injuries were indeed caused by the fall in Liverpool and put together a painstaking case analysing their inspection records and proving that Mr Archbold had been at the match that day – his season ticket had been activated and two witnesses confirmed his presence at Goodison Park. Any timings that were brought into question, such as the length of his journey home and the time he arrived at A&E, were also studied rigorously to prove that Mr Archbold had his fall in Liverpool and then was able to make his way back to Manchester before seeking hospital treatment. The Council forced the matter all the way to Trial. Mrs Roberts put together all the facts and figures to convince the court that Mr Archbold was right to be awarded a five figure personal injury compensation claim payout for his fall in a public place.

Mr Archbold did do exactly what anyone should do with a slip, trip or fall in a public place. Even whilst in a lot of pain he was able to keep his wits about him and keep a mental note of timings and what actually happened on the night; then he went back to the scene to take photographs; he was able to get the name and address of the resident who told him the hazard had been there for some time; and he followed all medical advice to ensure his best chances of a full recovery from his personal injury.

Emma Roberts, Manchester based Personal Injury Litigation Executive said: "Cases like this are notoriously difficult and are often rejected by Solicitors because of this. There was clear evidence here of fault on behalf of the Council and I worked with Mr Archbold to ensure that he received the compensation he deserved."

Mr Archbold told us: "Due to the advice and support I received from Mrs Roberts I felt I was well informed of my case progress at every stage. There were times when complex legal matters would arise that were explained to me in terms I could understand and I felt comfortable with the process at every stage."

"Simpson Millar took my case on where others had simply rejected the claim as too complex. I have received substantial financial compensation for my injuries and am very happy with the legal representation that I received."

"I would not hesitate to recommend Simpson Millar to anyone requiring legal services."

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