Tripping on a raised paving slab is an accident that everyone is familiar with. Indeed the act of walking along a pavement is an activity so routine and, well, pedestrian, that we do not associate it with any risk of injury, and certainly not something that will happen to us. 

By and large, our pavements in this country are in a decent condition, mainly because the law allows those responsible for the highway to be sued for compensation if the pavements are defective and that causes injury. That is a strong incentive on councils to  have in place a proper system of inspection and repair. But often they fail to carry out their duty and when the pavement is out of repair accidents tend to occur.

It is the elderly and disabled people are particularly vulnerable to injury from uneven and dangerous pavements, and the injuries they suffer from falls in the street are often serious, with long recovery periods and knock on effects on mobility and quality of life.

The types of injury suffered from trips on pavements can vary widely. Taking a random sample of the cases involving a trip on pavements currently being dealt with at Osbornes, the injuries vary from a broken nose to a severe aggravation of a pre-existing lower back condition, to a fractured elbow and wrist, to a damaged knee cap.

A claim for a trip on a pavement should be made against the relevant highway authority. This will often be the local authority, but in London can also be Transport for London, as well as various utility companies, such as Thames Water and British Telecom.

The key to success in bring a claim for a trip on a pavement is firstly showing that the defect on which you tripped was sufficiently dangerous for the Highway Authority to have had a duty to repair. As a general guide this means that for a raised paving slab the height difference needs to be at least an inch. Photographs of the defect with a ruler clearly showing the size of the defect will be crucial evidence .

It will also be helpful if you can show that the Highway Authority knew about the defect before your accident occurred (or ought to have known, because it had been there for so long), and so should have repaired it earlier. The Highway Authority will have a successful defence to any claim if they can show that they had a reasonable system of inspections for defects on their streets, and that they operated it effectively.

Recent cases

Mrs L, an elderly lady who lived in a tree lined suburban road, knew that her Local Authority were poor at keeping the street in repair, especially around the roots of the trees where paving slabs were lifted by the growing roots. But she could not avoid every defect and was unlucky enough to trip and fall over a raised paving slab sustained a fractured wrist and a head wound, as well as soft tissue injuries to her knees. 

As a result, she lost her confidence and was not able to get out and about by public transport and relied on others for help with personal care and domestic chores. Her son, who happened to be an insurance claims manager, was unable to persuade the local council’s insurers to accept her claim and so consulted Osbornes.

We obtained evidence that the defect had been present long before their latest inspection and so they knew of the danger but had to issue court proceedings before the council backed down and agreed to settle the claim.

We have a team of experienced lawyers who are very successful at winning claims where an injury has been sustained by tripping on a pavement. Through our knowledge of the different Highway Authorities operating in London and their systems we are able to give you the best possible chance of achieving a successful outcome, and getting the compensation your injury deserves.