Occupiers liability compensation claims

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Jenny Jones

Panel Senior Litigator

Introduction to occupiers liability

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 years approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds alone result in a hospital visit. RoSPA suggest 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.

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 dependants. 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 much compensation could you get for an accident on another person's property?

The amount you could claim for compensation will be based on the type and severity of your injuries.

Upper and lower figures for an injury or other medical condition are recommended in the Judicial College guidelines for personal injury awards (formerly the Judicial Studies Board guidelines).

For example, general damages for a back injury resulting in permanent problems, including where there is a higher chance of developing arthritis in later life, may range between £10,120 and £22,440.

Courts will use the Judicial College guidelines to determine compensation awards, and insurers will consider the guidelines when making an offer.

In circumstances where an existing injury or medical condition has been exacerbated as a result of the accident, a compensation claim may still be made.

It is possible to claim special damages for travel expenses including those to hospital appointments, the cost of medical treatment and ongoing care and lost earnings.

How long will it take before you 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 effect 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 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:

  1. did the other side owe you a duty of care?
  2. did they breach that duty?
  3. 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?

Guaranteed No Win No Fee occupiers' liability compensation claim - No Catch

A no win no fee contract (more correctly referred to as a CFA or Conditional Fee Agreement) is entered into between a claimant and a specialist injury lawyer.

The CFA is essentially the terms and conditions under which the solicitor works for the claimant.

The CFA outlines what the lawyers will do and how he will be paid if your claim is ultimately successful.

If you instruct a Quittance solicitor for your occupiers' liability compensation claim there are no sneaky hidden fees , no up-front fees and the comfort that you will never be out of pocket.

Get your free Occupiers Liability Compensation Claim Report

You may not yet be ready to talk to a solicitor. If you need more information first, a Compensation Claim Report (CCR) will provide an in-depth assessment of your claim.

Your CCR will look at:

  • how much compensation you could be awarded
  • how long it should take to reach a settlement
  • the probability of success

For more information on your potential claim, get a CCR here.

Frequently asked questions

Quittance understands that you will have specific questions when evaluating whether or not to begin a claim.

For answers to your questions concerning how personal injury compensation claims work, such as What if there is uncertainty as to who is to blame?, see our FAQ section.

The next steps

For more information, you can get an free, in-depth view of your potential claim with a Compensation Claim Report.

If you are ready, you can start your claim here or call us on 0800 612 7456. A callback at a more suitable time can also be arranged if that is more convenient.