A Guide to Claiming Public Place Accident Compensation

If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an accident in a public place we can help.

The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered an accident in a public place and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.

Introduction

Accidents in public places are common, can occur almost anywhere and are referred to as 'public liability' or 'occupiers liability' accidents.

Public liability refers to the fact that there is a company, public body or other party who is:

  • the owner or occupier of the place you were injured, and
  • is liable for your injury

The owner of the public place has a legal duty to ensure that all areas accessible by the public are safe, and the risk of injury is minimised.

Examples of accidents in a public place are slips, trips or falls on uneven pavements, roads and other surfaces or in commercial premises such as supermarkets, shops and car parks.

Quittance's panel solicitors offer legal advice and help with rehabilitation after an accident.

Do I have a public place accident claim?

A public place accident injury claim should be possible if your injury happened:

  • within the last three years and,
  • another person was to blame.

However, there may be other considerations that mean you have a valid claim - even if the above points do not apply to you.

Get impartial advice on whether you have a claim - speak to one of our experts on 0800 612 7456.

A brief phone consultation will confirm whether you have a claim. We will never put you under pressure to start a claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a public place accident claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

What if the other party denies liability?

If the defendant denies liability, your solicitor will build the strongest possible case in order to prove that the defendant is responsible for your public place accident. Ultimately the solicitor will issue court proceedings on the defendant. Often this prompts an admission of liability before proceedings begin.

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How could compensation help you?

The underlying principle of compensation is to attempt to put you back in a position you would have been in if the accident had not happened.

Financial compensation can only ever go so far in terms of compensating you for an injury, but it can enable an injured person to focus on their recovery.

An injury, whether sustained in a public place or anywhere else, can have severe implications for the injured person and their dependants. Quittance's panel of specialist public liability solicitors have a track record of securing compensation awards:

  • for any pain and suffering
  • to reimburse any medical expenses such as physiotherapy
  • to reimburse any other expenses or damage to personal property
  • to cover any loss of earnings including those anticipated in the future

The claims process

Before embarking on a claim, a solicitor will discuss the circumstances surrounding the accident and set out the options available to you. The solicitor will prioritise and be sensitive to the importance of your treatment and recovery and will direct the legal process in parallel with this.

    Typically claims are made against councils and local authorities, government bodies and institutions, transport operators, companies or individuals providing a business or service.

    However, public liability claims can also extend to accidents that occurred in a private dwelling.

    Most cases are settled out of Court as public liability insurance companies prefer to avoid expensive and protracted legal action.

    What type of public place accidents have Quittance helped with?

    Our panel of solicitors have a wealth of experience assisting clients injured in a variety of public places, including:

    • shops, supermarkets and DIY stores
    • railway and bus stations, garages, car parks, petrol stations and taxi ranks
    • fitness centres, gymnasiums, solaria and swimming pools
    • poorly maintained roads, pavements and footpaths and unsafe road works.
    • leisure and theme parks
    • construction and building sites
    • schools, colleges and universities
    • bars, restaurants and pubs

    How likely am I to win my claim?

    To successfully claim compensation for a public liability accident, you and your legal team need to show that another person or company was responsible for your injury. This is usually the owner of the property where your accident happened.

    If the owner of the public property has admitted liability for the claim, your chances of winning are good. If liability is only partly accepted or contested, it will be harder to reach a successful outcome.

    A personal injury solicitor will help collate all of the evidence with a view to constructing the most robust case. To assist in this process you are advised to::

    • report the accident to the owner of the property, or in the case of commercial premises such as a shop, report it to the staff
    • if you did not report it at the time of the accident, report it now and include as much detail as you can remember
    • ensure that the accident is logged in the company's accident book if you are injured on commercial premises
    • take names and addresses or contact details of any witnesses
    • take photographs of the scene of the accident
    • measure any defect that caused the accident, e.g. raised flooring or a damaged paving slab that lead to a trip

    How much compensation can I claim for a public place accident?

    The amount of money you could claim for your public place accident will depend on:

    • the extent of your injury, and
    • any financial losses or costs you have incurred.

    At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your public place accident has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

    This calculation will factor in 'general damages' and 'special damages'.

    General damages

    General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).

    Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.

    Special damages

    Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

    What can I claim for after a public place accident? (see list)

    Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:

    • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
    • Medical treatment costs
    • Physiotherapy
    • Travel costs
    • Costs of care
    • Costs of adapting your home or car

    How is compensation calculated if I have multiple public place accident injuries?

    If you have sustained multiple injuries, the compensation amounts are not simply added together.

    The upper bracket of the most serious injury may be considered as a starting point, with a reduced amount applied for the other less severe injuries.

    For example:

    General damages for a serious leg injury can be £40,000

    For a more minor wrist injury, in isolation, you would typically receive £2,900.

    However, if you have a serious leg injury and a more minor wrist injury, you would typically receive £40,000 + a reduced percentage of £2,900.

    Special damages, such as loss of earnings are not usually increased if you have multiple injuries.

    What is the average injury compensation for a public place accident claim?

    The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.

    However, the money you would receive following a public place accident will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.

    Your public place accident compensation will be calculated based on the unique impact your injuries have had on your life, your ability to work, and the actual financial losses you have incurred as a result of your injuries.

    See the injury table above for some examples.

    Find out what your public place accident claim could be worth now

    Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated, particularly if you have multiple injuries.

    If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

    Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

    Calculate my claim

    How long do I have to make a public place accident claim?

    In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the public place accident to make an injury claim.

    The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your public place accident claim becomes 'statute barred'.

    Can I claim for a public place accident after 3 years?

    For adults, the general rule is no, you cannot start a claim more than three years after a public place accident.

    However, if you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.

    In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether a public place accident claim will be taken on by a solicitor.

    Will I still be able to claim for a public place accident after the law changes in April 2020?

    The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in April 2020.

    You will no longer be able to claim no win, no fee compensation using a solicitor for lower value claims (under £5,000).

    In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

    Caring and sensitive support

    Your solicitor will handle your public place accident claim from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

    • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
    • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
    • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
    • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

    How long does a claim take?

    The time required to complete a personal injury claim varies with the complexity of the case. Straightforward matters can be settled quickly, whereas more complicated cases can take much longer to resolve.

    This can be particularly concerning if you are already incurring expenses for things like medical treatment or if you are incapable of returning to work and are consequently unable to pay your bills. In these circumstances, interim compensation payments can usually be arranged in advance of a final award or settlement.

    For a better estimate of how long your claim could take, speak to a solicitor on 0800 612 7456 or get an online Compensation Claim Report.

    No win, no fee, no risk

    No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a public place accident claim with:

    • no upfront legal fees
    • no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
    • a success fee payable only if your claim is successful

    No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.

    No win, no fee promise

    Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a public place accident claim, even if you don't win your claim.

    What do I pay if I win my public place accident claim?

    Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, after your compensation is awarded. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. You and your solicitor can agree the success fee before you start your claim.

    What do I pay if I do not win my public place accident claim?

    If your public place accident claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees at all.

    Read more about No win, no fee

    Please note, under a No Win, No Fee Agreement (CFA), fees may apply if a claimant refuses to cooperate, or abandons their claim after the legal work has started, or if the claim is fraudulent.

    How can Quittance help?

    Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

    If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

    Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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    Public Place Accident FAQ's

    Can I claim for someone else?

    Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

    If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

    The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

    Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

    Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

    You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

    However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

    Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

    How long will my claim take?

    The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

    For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

    Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

    Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

    Personal injury claim type

    Estimated claim duration*

    Road accident claims

    4 to 9 months

    Work accident claims

    6 to 9 months

    Medical negligence claims

    12 to 36 months

    Industrial disease claims

    12 to 18 months

    Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

    6 to 9 months

    MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

    3 to 4 months**

    CICA claims (criminal assault)

    12 to 18 months**

    *RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
    **Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

    Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

    Will I have to go to court?

    Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

    Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

    Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

    Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

    Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

    No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

    Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

    Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

    Can I get an early compensation payment?

    If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim an interim compensation payment.

    An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

    Read more about interim compensation payments.

    Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

    About the author

    Howard qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and has specialised in personal injury for over 25 years. He is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and is a recognised Law Society Personal Injury Panel expert.

    Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert