A Guide to Claiming Occupiers Liability Compensation
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an injury we can help.
The purpose of this guide is to help anyone who has suffered an injury and is considering a legal claim for compensation. If you are looking for medical advice, please see the NHS website.
People, companies and other organisations who control privately-owned land or property are known as 'occupiers'. Occupiers have a duty to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of people who visit their property. This duty even applies to people trespassing on the property.
An occupier should regularly assess their premises for hazards. They should identify all possible hazards and determine if action needs to be taken to reduce or remove the risks they pose. If accidents are caused by the defective or dangerous condition of the premises, the occupier may be liable for any resulting injuries.
Children are particularly vulnerable to accidents caused as a result of occupiers' negligence. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) estimates that each year approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds alone result in a hospital visit. RoSPA suggests injuries can be caused by poor layout of equipment, incorrect installation, poor maintenance and inadequate inspection.
How does the law treat occupiers liability claims?
The law is very clear regarding occupiers liability claims. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, any lawful visitor to a property has a right to expect it to be safe. The phrase 'lawful visitor' covers any visit you make to a property either with the occupier's permission or because they have allowed access to the property.
Unlawful visitors are those who are trespassing on the property, whether they are aware they are trespassing or not. Historically, trespassers were not entitled to make occupiers liability claims. The Occupiers Liability Act 1984 was passed to grant more protection to unlawful visitors.
Do I have an occupiers liability claim?
It should be possible to make an occupiers liability claim if your injury occurred:
- in the last three years, and;
- someone else was to blame, and;
- that person owed you a duty of care.
Find out if you have a claim with our Online Claim Checker:
Are there any exceptions?
If these two points don't apply to you, a compensation claim may still be a possibility.
To confirm whether you are eligible to claim speak to one of our experts on 0800 612 7456.
A short call will tell you exactly where you stand. You will be under no obligation to start a claim with Quittance.
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 an occupiers liability claim on their own behalf.
Can I make an occupiers liability claim right up to the three-year limit?
Technically, yes. However, in practice, not always. Many solicitors will not take on an occupiers liability claim that only has a few months (sometimes even a year) left before the time limit expires. The panel of solicitors will take a claim on as late as possible where it is felt that the claim could be successful.
The amount of money you could claim for your occupiers liability 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 occupiers liability 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 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 are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
What can I claim for after an occupiers liability? (see list)
Examples of special damages (losses you can claim for) include:
- Lost earnings (including future earnings)
- Medical treatment costs
- Travel costs
- Costs of care
- Costs of adapting your home or car
How is compensation calculated if I have multiple 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.
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.Read more about multiple injury claims
What is the average injury compensation for an occupiers liability claim?
The Judicial College injury tables give a approximate idea of the ranges awarded for different injuries.
However, the money you would receive following an occupiers liability will depend entirely on your specific circumstances.
Your occupiers liability 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.
Can I get an interim payment?
Interim payments are effectively an advance on a probable compensation award. An interim payment may be awarded if the claimant is in immediate financial hardship.
What if I am not yet sure of the extent of my injury?
If you have not yet sought medical attention, your solicitor will arrange a medical assessment for you ASAP. If you are awaiting test results, a claim can still be started. Once the extent of the injuries are known, the settlement can be calculated.
Occupiers liability compensation calculator
Calculating how much compensation you can claim for an occupiers liability injury can be complicated.
Our injury compensation calculator tells you if you may have a claim, how much compensation you could claim, and what you can claim for.
Find out what your occupiers liability claim could be worth now:
How long does an occupiers liability claim take?
The length of time needed to win compensation for an occupiers liability claim can vary significantly.
For example, a simple liability accepted injury claim could be settled in a matter of weeks. However, if liability is denied a claim can take substantially longer. Normally an injury claim takes 4 to 9 months. For more information, see:How long will my claim take?
Will I still be able to claim for an occupiers liability 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 occupiers liability 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.
Who pays for this specialist help?
The cost of treatment will be factored into your compensation settlement paid by the defendant or their insurance company. Should you require private treatment before the case settles, an interim payment to cover treatment costs may be possible.
Who can claim for accidents on private land?
Occupiers liability claims can be made for injuries sustained anywhere an occupier owes a duty to you as a user of those premises, from supermarkets and swimming pools to building sites, playgrounds, schools and offices. If you have sustained an injury within the previous thee years as the result of an accident on someone else's property, you may be entitled to make a claim.
To make a successful claim, your lawyer must prove that the occupier was responsible for the accident and that the injuries you sustained resulted from the accident.
You may be able to claim compensation if responsibility for the injury or accident is shared by both sides. Generally, a split liability agreement will resolve these claims.
Does the law treat children differently?
The law recognises that children are less aware of dangers than adults and are less likely to take appropriate precautions. As a result, occupiers of premises that children may visit (or otherwise have access to) are held to a higher standard when a claim is made on behalf of a child. Occupiers liability claims made on behalf of children are often more likely to be successful for this reason.
What if I already knew the land was dangerous?
If you were already aware of the danger present, or if your job or experience meant you should have been more aware, you will need to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to mitigate the risk. If you took reasonable precautions and nevertheless sustained an injury, you may still be entitled to make a claim.
What if I was trespassing at the time?
Under the 1984 Act, trespassers are entitled to make a claim after sustaining an injury on unsafe or dangerous premises or land. It must be shown that:
- The owner or occupier knew of the danger or should have known one existed
- The owner or occupier knew or should have known you were close to the danger
- The owner or occupier should have protected you against the danger
If you are unsure whether you had a right to visit the property where you were injured, or are not certain whether the above tests can be proven in your case, call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for a confidential, no-obligation discussion regarding your options.
Time limits for occupier's liability compensation claims
In general, a claim for compensation can be started within three years of an injury.
Given that many occupier's liability claims involve physical accidents, t is unlikely that a person only discovers that they have been injured after some time has passed. In these cases, the three-year limit only applies from the date your illness or injury was diagnosed. This is known as the 'date of discovery'.
It is recommended that you start a claim early, as this will give your solicitor more time to gather the necessary evidence and to negotiate your claim. Witnesses may be easy to track down and interview, and other evidence such as the cause of the injury itself (e.g. a faulty door or broken tile) on the property may still not be repaired.
How could an occupier's liability claim help you?
Accidents can have serious repercussions for injured parties and their dependents. Quittance's personal injury solicitors work hard on behalf of their clients to negotiate maximum compensation for:
- pain, suffering and loss of amenity arising from your injuries
- lost earnings if you have had to take time off work
- future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work
- the cost of medical treatment and future care relating to your injuries
- expenses such as travel costs to and from hospital
How Quittance's solicitors can help and give advice on occupier's liability claims
Solicitors understand how critical your treatment and recovery is. In consideration of the circumstances of your accident or illness, your solicitor will tailor their advice and approach.
Many claimants have questions they would like answered before deciding whether to start a claim. Our experts are available to discuss your options in a no-obligation consultation.
Helping people make successful compensation claims for occupiers liability, Quittance's personal injury experts have acted for claimants injured in a wide range of circumstances. Settlements and Court awards have been negotiated successfully for injuries including:
- injuries sustained after tripping over discarded or dangerous materials on a building site
- cuts and other injuries from old barbed wire concealed near a playground
- a child injured in a classroom after a hazard was identified but no action was taken to remove it
- wrist, ankle, back and head injuries due to spillages in shops, bars and restaurants
To enable you to focus on your recovery, Quittance's solicitors take care of the negotiation and legal work.
It is a relief to many claimants that compensation is usually negotiated without needing to take Court action.
How long will it take to my receive compensation?
Some straightforward occupiers liability claims are settled in a matter of months. More complicated claims or those involving serious injury typically take a longer amount of time to resolve. Certain factors can affect the duration of the claims process, such as the other party denying responsibility for the accident.
It can be difficult to predict the length of time it will take to agree on a final settlement. In some cases, it will benefit the claimant to reject an initial offer as this strategy can result in a larger compensation payout later, once more evidence has been gathered and the full extent of the injuries known.
To get a better estimate of how long your claim is likely to take, speak to an expert personal injury solicitor on freephone 0800 612 7456 or by obtaining a Compensation Claim Report.
How likely are you to be successful with a claim for compensation
The three points needed to prove fault are:
- did the other side owe you a duty of care?
- did they breach that duty?
- did the breach cause your injuries?
In short, "Were the injuries caused by the owner or occupier of the property "
If it has been accepted by the occupier that they are liable, then a successful claim is very likely. If the occupier does not acknowledge liability fully it may be harder to successfully negotiate compensation.
Your solicitor will discuss with you what happened and ask questions to help build a strong case. There are some key questions that need to be answered when considering any claim under the Occupiers Liability Act:
- Was the danger obvious?
- What warnings, if any, were in place to help make you aware of the danger?
- Should the area have been better lit or were lights defective?
- Had any fences or barriers been put in place to help make it safer?
- What were you doing at the time of your visit to the land or premises, why were you there?
- How old were you at the time?
- What did the Occupier know about the danger or should have known?
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 an occupiers liability 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.
Our no win, no fee guarantee
If you have been injured and someone else was to blame (even partially), our no win, no fee guarantee takes the risk out of claiming compensation for your occupiers liability injury.
What do I pay if I win my occupiers liability 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 occupiers liability claim?
If your occupiers liability claim is not successful then you won't have to pay your solicitor any fees. Your solicitor may take out insurance to ensure there will be nothing to pay.
How do personal injury solicitors get paid?
If your occupiers liability claim is successful, the defendant, or their insurer, will pay the compensation and your solicitors fees.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Occupiers liability 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.
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.
How long do I have to make an occupiers liability claim?
In general, you have a time limit of up to 3 years from the date of the occupiers liability to make an injury claim.
The last date you can make a claim is known as the claim limitation date - after which your occupiers liability claim becomes 'statute barred'.
Can I claim for an occupiers liability after 3 years?
Possibly. The general rule for adults is that a claim must be started within three years.
However, the three-year countdown starts on the day you learned of your injury or illness. This will usually be the date of the accident, but could be the date your doctor gave you a diagnosis.
If you were injured as a child, you do have up until your 21st birthday to make a claim.
There other circumstances that can also impact the limitation date. Call us now on 0800 612 7456 to find out if you are still able to claim occupiers liability compensation.
In reality, there are a number of factors that can affect whether an occupiers liability claim will be taken on by a solicitor.
Will I have to go to court?
Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by the 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.
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.
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.
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