If an injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by an injury, we can help. Whether your injuries were caused by a slip, trip, fall or other incident, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a compensation claim for an accident in a public place with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
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.
If you decide to make an occupiers liability claim, your personal injury solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
How much compensation can I claim for an occupiers liability?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness 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 injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
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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 awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include lost earnings, or any other out of pocket expenses.
Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your injury, including pain medication and psychological support.
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 376 1001 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 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?
How we can help you with your injury claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.