Compensation has been paid by Transport for London (TfL) to a journalist who tripped on a poorly-maintained utility cover, which caused serious physical injuries, and left one finger permanently disfigured and restricted in movement.
Suffering with torn ankle ligaments and a spiral fracture to his ring finger received from the fall, the journalist, aged 55, was “particularly distressed” at being forced to stop work for nearly two months because he was no longer able to travel from one location to another throughout the day, as his job demanded.
Despite several surgical procedures, physiotherapy, personal training and a programme of rehabilitation to help rebuild the strength in the ankle, there is a permanent impairment to one of the journalist’s fingers. In the subsequent investigation, it was found that it was the responsibility of TfL to maintain the utility cover that caused the fall but they had failed to repair the hazardous pavement.
Apart from local councils, many different organisations have a responsibility for the repair and maintenance of cracked pavements / kerbstones and utility covers, such as TfL. A frequently used defence is 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.
Genuine claims from members of the public can often be contested on the grounds that the claimant "failed to look at where they were placing their feet" or that they “overcompensated” in trying to prevent a loss of balance and as a result, actually lost their balance and fell over.
More than 2,300 older people trip and fall every day on damaged or uneven pavements in the UK, according to Age UK. One in three needed hospital treatment and more than one in ten said they feel nervous about having an accident while walking along on street pavements every time they leave their home. In a six year period, the number of injury claims made as a result of slips, trips and falls has risen sharply by nearly 60 per cent.