Making an Injury Claim against a Council or Local Authority

Posted Apr 21, 2020.

Did you know that there are 343 Councils in England, made up of 5 different types: County Councils (typically the largest), District Councils and Unitary Authorities (made up of London Boroughs, Metropolitan Boroughs and Unitary Authorities). One thing that they all have in common is their duty of care to keep people safe when they are using or accessing public spaces. Public spaces include a diverse range of areas including parks, playgrounds, leisure centres and schools, and also includes their associated roads, pathways and buildings.

Sub-standard or non-existent maintenance of a council’s public spaces is one of the most common reasons why an individual may suffer an injury, resulting in a claim being made for compensation. Failing to maintain public spaces properly puts people at risk and is a failure of a council’s duty of care. In our  extensive experience in successfully representing injured claimants, we have found that council and local authority claims fall into 3 main categories:

Leisure Centre and Playground Claims

Leisure centres – including swimming pools – and playgrounds are by their very nature dynamic and busy environments, often with a high proportion of children amongst their users. In addition to councils overriding duty of care in making sure such facilities are safe for all users, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, councils also have a statutory duty to ensure the health and safety of all its users.  Leisure centres provide all types of activities, such as gyms, fitness classes, swimming lessons, sports hall hire and children’s parties; and types of injuries that are often suffered include:

  • Injuries caused by poorly maintained, faulty or damaged equipment
  • Illness as a result of poor swimming pool maintenance or hygiene
  • Falls, trips and slips, including as a result of damaged tiles in changing rooms
  • Gym injuries due to lack of instruction or poor supervision

Trip and Fall Claims in Public Spaces

Local authorities and councils are required to take action once a potential hazard on their land or in their buildings has been reported. Following their risk assessment, if an appropriate repair is not promptly carried out, then they would be in breach of their duty of care, and anyone suffering an injury as a result will be able to make a claim.

Trip, fall and slip claims are often the result of an uneven pavement or road surface, potholes, poorly maintained stairs and steps and fluid spills in unexpected locations. If such hazards have been reported but remedial action was not taken, then you should be able to make a claim for compensation. Councils are also required to provide adequate signage and barriers whilst undertaking repairs to ensure that members of the public are kept safe.

Injury Claims as a Council Employee

As well as providing a duty of care to the general public, the same also applies to the 1m+ people who are employed by councils and local authorities in the UK. Councils must ensure that they comply with their legal obligations under health and safety legislation, including all employees health, safety and wellbeing – both mental and physical. Working environments must be safe; appropriate risk assessments must be carried out when required; and staff must receive appropriate and timely training and instruction.

If you work for a council and you have suffered from a physical injury or mental health problem due to your employer’s negligence, then you should be able to make a claim for compensation. Proof of negligence is very important for a claim to be successful, and the more evidence you have the better. Evidence can include CCTV footage, details of anyone who witnessed the accident, photo’s of the accident location and a copy of your workplace accident log book. Should your accident be particularly serious, then the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are likely to get involved; obtaining a copy of their independent report may also help with your claim.

Whether as an employee or as a member of the public, most claims against local authorities or councils must be made within 3 years after the date of the incident, or 3 years after you first became aware that a council’s negligence has led to a particular injury or illness. If you are claiming on behalf of a child, you until they turn 18 to claim, or until they turn 21 if they decide to claim for themselves. The overall advice, as with most types of personal injury claim, is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Injury Claims Advice from Bakers Solicitors

At Bakers we pride ourselves on our experience in representing claimants who have been injured through no fault of their own, helping them to receive compensation that they are properly entitled to. Our professional, friendly team will give you an honest, free and ‘plain English’ appraisal of your claim and we love to delight our clients when they receive the injury compensation they deserve. 

If you would like us to handle your personal injury compensation claim, you can contact us online or by phone on 01252 744600.

Read about some of our 
compensation claim success stories or key stages to making a claim