Another recent terrible tragedy to occur in a public place happened on Thursday 30 August when a 13ft high concrete window frame, which was propped up against a building wall, toppled over and crushed to death a passing female pedestrian aged in her 20s.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are currently investigating the incident, including a claim that barriers, which had been safeguarding the building undergoing major reconstruction in Mayfair’s Hanover Square, were alleged to have been previously removed, exposing the window frames so heavy they were originally hoisted into position by crane.
Such a dramatic incident is almost certain to be reported in the press. However, accident claims take place every day for public liability by the many people who suffer injury from a slip, trip or a serious fall. In 2010, they accounted for just over 1 in 5 injuries lasting more than four days, and a quarter of all injured people who were unable to work for over a month.
Public liability accidents can occur anywhere, inside or outside a public place. Most commonly they happen inside business premises, schools, grocery stores and shopping centres. But accidents are just as likely to take place outside in public parks, playgrounds, and most frequently, on the high street and side roads, where broken or uneven pavements and walking surfaces are a continuing major cause of personal injury claims.
In a majority of these cases the injury compensation claim will be based on proving a breach of the Highways Act 1980, under which, a local council has a statutory duty to maintain the highway and footpaths and must show they are regularly inspected and fixed.
In the workplace, slips, trips and falls are responsible for just over 2 out of 5 accidents, according to personal injury claims experts, yet the HSA state there are still thousands of premises, which have failed to carry out the required risk assessment procedures - and are almost certainly to be an accident waiting to take place to vulnerable employees.
The simple truth is that everyone is at risk of suffering an accident anywhere, anytime but if it occurs in a public place such as on a public highway, a council owned property or a shop premises, then protection is given by public liability laws for accident compensation claims.