I tripped and fell on a raised paving stone and I fell awkwardly, will I be entitled to claim compensation for a lumbar spine injury against the local authority? My doctor has told me I have a small crack in a vertebra in my lower back.
There are a number of criteria which must be satisfied in order for you to claim compensation for a lumbar spine injury against the local authority, and while your accident certainly appears to have resulted from a poorly maintained pavement, it does not mean that a personal injury claim will be possible.
The reason why compensation for a lumbar spine injury cannot always be claimed is because the duty of care owed to you by the local authority is not absolute. A local authority has a legal responsibility to maintain pavements and highways to ensure pedestrians and road users are not placed at an excessive risk of sustaining an injury. However, the local authority cannot be held accountable for every accident which occurs in the street in Ireland.
The local authority should conduct regular inspections of all roads and pavements within its area of jurisdiction to identify sections of pavement and roads which need to be repaired. It is also required to respond to complaints about dangerous pavements or raised paving stones and make repairs; although a reasonable amount of time must be allowed for a local authority to arrange for its road maintenance team to conduct an inspection and schedule repairs.
In order for you to be entitled to claim lumbar spine injury compensation, you must be able to establish that the local authority was negligent for failing to make repairs in a reasonable time frame and that it breached a duty of care to keep you ‘reasonably’ safe. For your spinal injury compensation claim to be successful, you must be able to prove that the local authority was either aware of the raised paving stone (and failed to make repairs in an acceptable time frame), or that it should have been aware of the hazard and made repairs in time to prevent your accident.
Evidence of negligence to support a spinal injury compensation claim can be difficult to obtain, and it is recommended that you speak to a personal injury solicitor for legal advice and to receive assistance with proving negligence and a failure in a duty of care.
It is recommended that you return to the location where you tripped and fell in the street if possible to record details of the height of the raised paving stone and its exact location to support your claim for lumbar spine injury compensation. Measurements should be taken of the dimensions of the hazard and photographs taken using an item of known size for scale, which must be clearly visible in the photograph.
You must also ensure that one photograph shows the paving stone in relation to a landmark to clearly identify the location of the paving stone. Local authorities are likely to reject liability for an accident if there is any dispute over land boundaries. You must also make a complaint to the local authority about your accident and report the hazard. This should be done by telephone and in writing.