Claiming against the council - is it possible?
As the UK's population increases, so does the number of people using the roads and pavements. Naturally then, these will start to wear out over time and will need replacing, however, due to a lack of finances from Westminster, many local councils are unable to bring their roads and pavements up to satisfactory levels.
Due to poor quality roads and pavements, an increasing number of people are complaining about deep potholes and uneven pavements, which can lead to property damage as well as serious personal injuries - just a few months ago, we reported that 50,000 pothole claims were made in the 2013/2014 financial year alone.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the legalities surrounding claiming against their local council, with some under the belief that you cannot claim against a council at all. However, local authorities and councils have a duty to ensure people are secure and safe when on public property. If the local authority fail to maintain their property and an innocent person gets injured as a result of this negligence, the council is then liable for any and all compensation which may be awarded.
I've been injured! What next?
If you've been injured by a pothole, uneven pavements or even in a local park or children's playground, you may not instantly think of taking a photo. However, to ensure the claim has the best chance of being successful you'll need to provide evidence that the pothole was at least an inch deep or more, and the uneven pavement slab was sticking up by at least an inch. For personal injury claims, you have 3 years from the date of the injury to file a claim, although it is possible to claim outside of this time frame.
Once the council is aware of any claim, they will likely fix the road or pavement, and that's why it's vital you try to gather as much photographic evidence as possible. If you are able to, it will also help your claim if you can give the names and addresses of any witnesses that were present along with the police incident number if applicable.
Once we've accepted your case, we'll write to the council and report your accident and injuries to create a record of the event which acts as proof that the authority are aware of the incident - stopping them feign ignorance.
The council will pass on the claim details to their insurers who will respond to the claim request either with a letter saying the local authority isn't at fault or with a letter offering compensation. If we receive a compensation offer, we'll discuss with you whether the amount is acceptable, if it is deemed unacceptable we'll fight to win you payment that better reflects your injuries in a court of law. If the council deems itself not at fault we can appeal against the decision, the claim will then go to court where a judge will decide whether the council was negligent or not and award compensation if any is necessary.
It should be noted that if you were to make a false personal injury claim against a council and were discovered, you could face a significant fine of up to £3,000. To make sure your claim has the best possible chance of success, it has to be genuine and supported by accurate documentation and proof.
Here at Fonseca Law we help clients win compensation for injuries sustained as a result of a council's negligence. If you've been injured walking across the road or on the pavements due to a pothole or raised slab you could be entitled to compensation. Contact our team today on 0800 156 0770 or fill out our online claim form.