Call me back

More Slips And Trips Likely On The Highway As Council Repair Spending Falls.

17th December 2013
Following the second coldest March on record in the UK and prolonged severe winter weather it is to be expected that pavements, footpaths walkways and the public highway in general could be in urgent need of repairs.

Even in previous less harsh winter weather conditions, paving slabs, kerbstones, tarmac, concrete or other pedestrian or road surfaces continually deteriorate, become dislodged, uneven, crack, rupture and collapse. Along with potholes and missing manhole covers, road surface disruption accounts for the majority of slips and trips in public areas, resulting in accident claims made by members of the public. Currently, personal injury compensation of more than £50 million is being paid by authorities as a result of poor road surfaces.

Under the Highways Act 1980, local Councils have a legal duty to ensure the pavements are reasonably safe by ensuring they operate a system of regular inspections and maintenance schedules. However, local authorities are known to be constantly behind in their repair works despite the common defence that they operate a regular system of highway inspections.

The purpose of an inspection is to find and repair any defects before an accident takes place but it should be noted that the regularity of inspection may very well depend upon the degree of usage. This means that a public throughfare, main street or town centre may be more likely to receive more frequent inspections than a country lane or rural area.

Road maintenance spending reduction...

Since 2009/10 spending on road maintenance by the Highways Agency has fallen by £560 million and by £301 million at local highway authorities. According to a March 2013 survey by the Automobile Association, 50 per cent of respondents stated local road conditions were “worse” and 14 per cent said “much worse” than a year ago.

Unfortunately, it is common for local councils to contest the numerous genuine claims from members of the public by implying that the claimant "failed to look ahead to where they were placing their feet" or that they “overcompensated” trying to prevent a loss of balance and as a result, actually lost their balance and fell over.

There can also be an issue over just how far a piece of broken pavement has to protrude in order to hold the local authority responsible for an accident, although it is generally accepted to be more than one inch.

Other frequently used defences reasons for abrogating responsibility can include that a third party, such as a utilities or road maintenance company had caused the damage or simply that the accident occurred on privately-owned land.