I want to make a claim for an injury from tripping and falling in a pothole against the local authority. Can you tell me if there is anything I need to do before I start my claim through the Injuries Board?
There are a number of procedures which should be completed before you commence a claim for an injury from tripping and falling in a pothole against a local authority. The most important action – if you have not already done so – is to seek medical treatment for your injuries.
A Medical Assessment Form (Claim Form B) must be completed by a doctor, which details the injuries that have been sustained. This form is usually completed by the doctor who attended to your injuries after the accident, who is likely to charge you for this service.
Before paying for a medical assessment form to be completed by your doctor, it is advisable to seek legal advice from a personal injury solicitor and to have your eligibility to claim confirmed. It is not always possible to claim for an injury from a trip and fall caused by a pothole against the local authority, as the duty of care owed to the general public is not absolute.
The local authority is not required to repair potholes as soon as they form, and time must be allowed for inspections to take place and repairs to be scheduled. If the pothole had only just formed, or if it had deteriorated significantly due to recent bad weather, it may be unreasonable to expect the local authority to have been aware of the pothole and have made repairs in time to prevent your accident. Whether claims for compensation for a pothole trip in the street can be made often depends on the length of time the hazard existed, and if under the circumstances repairs could have been made.
If the local authority denies knowledge of the pothole, a claim for an injury from tripping and falling in a pothole should still be possible if it can be established that the local authority should have been aware of the hazard. To make a claim for compensation for a pothole trip in the street on this basis, it must be established that the pothole had been present for some time and should have been identified by the local authority’s road maintenance teams.
Proof of negligence would need to come from CCTV camera footage of the street, by obtaining records of the last street inspection made by the local authority and from statements taken from local residents, and a solicitor will assist you in this regard.
You must also ensure that the accident is reported to the local authority in writing. You should detail the injury you sustained in addition to the exact location of the pothole which caused your trip and fall. You should also return to the scene of the accident to obtain evidence of the size and dimensions of the pothole. You should take photographs of the pothole in relation to the surroundings (so that the exact location can be identified), and also record the dimensions of the pothole by measuring the length, breadth and depth of the pothole with a tape measure.
Once evidence has been collected and the right to make a claim for an injury from a trip and fall caused by a pothole has been confirmed, your solicitor will assist with the completion of the claim form and obtaining other documentation to support your case. Once the medical assessment form has been obtained, your application for an Injuries Board assessment can then be sent.