What is the Occupiers Liability Act 1957?

If you are injured while on someone else's property, you may be able to make an occupiers liability compensation claim if you can show that the property owner failed to take reasonable care for your safety.

The Occupiers Liability Act of 1957 requires that property owners keep their visitors reasonably safe from harm. If you are injured while using someone else's property through no fault of your own, you may be able to claim compensation.

Slip and fall accidents make up the majority of Occupiers Liability claims, but the legislation covers any type of injury. 

Requirements for making a claim

Generally, there are four things you must show in order to make an Occupier's Liability claim: 

  • That you were invited onto the premises by the occupier or were lawfully permitted to be on the property, such as in the case of police officers and fire fighters. Trespassers may have a claim, but only in very limited circumstances.
  • That you were using the premises for the permitted purpose. For example, you were not riding a horse in a designated bicycle lane. 
  • That the occupier of the property did not take reasonable steps to keep you safe during your visit. 
  • That you suffered injury as a result. 

The property owner's duty is to keep you safe and not the property safe. This is a crucial distinction. For example, if you are warned against entering derelict property and the warning is reasonable in all the circumstances, then the property owner probably has done enough to keep you safe. He does not also have to repair the property. 

Who is responsible for my injury?

Under the Occupiers Liability Act the "occupier" of the property is responsible for your accident. This is the person who:

  • owns the property 
  • has the exclusive right to use the property, for example, a tenant 
  • has a right to control the use of the property, for example a property manager.

"Property" means any physical land or building, as well as the structures on it. Companies, partnerships and local authorities can also be "occupiers" under the Act. This means that you can bring a claim for slips and injury on just about any type of public or private property, including supermarkets, schools, pavements, restaurants, car parks, nightclubs and rented accommodation.

How do I prove negligence?

You must show that the occupier did not take reasonable measures to keep you safe. It is good practice to take photographs of the spillage or defect that caused your injuries. Where possible, you should take the details of anyone who witnessed the accident. Your legal team will also request CCTV footage to support your claim. 

  • The arguments you may have to counter include:
  • The hazard was not in existence long enough for the occupier to identify and repair it before any accident happened, so the occupier was not negligent.
  • You wilfully ignored warning signs and thus accepted the risk.
  • You used the property in a manner that was not permitted and thus caused or contributed yourself to the injury.

How can Quittance help?

Quittance's expert panel of solicitors have a wealth of experience with Occupier's Liability claims. For a free discussion about your case, and an initial assessment of whether the property owner is likely to have breached their duty of care, please telephone Quittance on 0800 612 7456 or contact us online today.