Compensation claims are often the result of various accidents that happen in public areas that should be maintained by local authorities or in privately owned areas open to the public, maintained by businesses.
Public bodies need to ensure that every single area (from roads and pavements to leisure centres) is properly maintained and free of any potential hazards to the general public.
Businesses like restaurants, hotels, supermarkets or shops that grant access to their facilities to the public also need to ensure the safety of its users.
Regardless of the location itself, as long as the accident happen in a public place, a person has the right to make a public liability claim.
What Is Public Liability?
If a person gets injured in a public space, the owner or the occupier of that space can be liable. In fact, they are liable as long as the accident came to be due to their negligence. The owner has a duty of care that includes maintaining the safety of the space.
If there is a liable party, the injured party can potentially seek compensation for:
- General damages for pain and suffering
- Loss of earnings due to the injury
- Future loss of earnings (if the injuries diminish the working capacity of the plaintiff)
- Medical bills, future medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Legal fees and other expenses that are the result of the plaintiff making their claim
Liability Insurance of Public Bodies
Liability Insurance is a common way for public bodies to minimise their risks in these cases. And most public bodies that interface with the general public have that insurance. Public bodies can use the insurance to cover pay-outs for personal injury claims.
Private businesses are moving in the same direction. Shopping centres, construction firms, and other companies are purchasing liability insurance plans. The reason for that is simple, no matter how big a company is, they can be liable for someone’s injuries. And if they are, they will have to compensate the injured party.
Under what conditions can a member of the public claim public liability?
Generally, in order to claim public liability, one will need to prove duty of care, fault and loss or damage.
- The duty of care
In this case, a person needs to prove that other people (or business) directly (or indirectly) caused an injury by failing to acknowledge their own responsibility.
- The duty of fault
In this case, one needs to make sure that other people (or business) caused an injury by neglecting them and/or taking proper care of them. As long as another party causes an injury as a result of their lack of care, a person can easily make a public liability claim.
- The duty of damage/loss
To make a good public liability claim, one needs to prove that any damage (or loss) that occurred was a result of an injury (or an accident). Injuries can be both mental and physical.
What Constitutes Negligence in Public Liability Claims
Every property owner needs to take the necessary steps to avoid accidents occurring on his or her premises. In practice, it’s almost impossible to avoid every single scenario that could ultimately result in injuries and/or accidents, so the law has protection measures put in place to protect property owners against unjustified claims.
In the following circumstances, an injured party is not eligible to issue a compensation claim:
- If the person was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the accident;
- If the person was reckless and got themselves injured as a result of such behaviour;
- In case the person was unreasonable and didn’t try to prevent their own injury;
- In case the owner already took the necessary steps to prevent any kind of accident. One such example would be a barrier that warns people about temporary hazards in the given area.
Types of Accidents
As long as there is a way to establish liability, any accident can lead to a personal injury claim.
The most common types of accidents that lead to personal injury claims are:
- Slips, trips and fall injuries due to wet floors, potholes, tree roots, defective stairwells, uneven pavements or negligent maintenance of footpaths.
- Injuries caused by falling objects or by sharp objects that should have protected and made safe.
- Injuries due to obstructions on the road or pedestrian footpaths.
Contacting a Solicitor
If one wants to make a claim, they should start by contacting a solicitor. A lawyer with experience in personal injury claims can determine if one has grounds for a claim.
However, there are cases where common sense dictates that the owner is not liable for the injury. For the most part, lawmakers in Ireland follow rules of common sense. And personal injury law is no exception. If the injured party fails to pay attention or notice obvious dangers and warnings, they might be at fault.
But if there were no warnings and the cause of the accident was hard to notice, there might be enough grounds for a claim. It is even possible to claim negligence in cases where one believes they could have avoided the accident. It is not uncommon for defendants to accept contributory negligence. In those cases, they offer compensation proportionate to the fault levels of the defendant. The judge also has the ability to make a ruling that deems both parties responsible for the accident to varying degrees. In those cases, the judge allocates compensation values depending on the degrees of responsibility.
Making a Successful Claim
If anyone wants to make their claim successful, they first need to prove that another party caused their injury. It doesn’t matter if it’s a person or a business entity. As long as we suffer an injury that was not self-inflicted, a person can easily make a public claim.
There are 5 points one has to bear in mind while making a claim:
- Establishing liability of an identifiable party
- Gathering evidence, and data of potential witnesses
- Photographing the area where the accident happened
- Reporting the incident to the liable party or local authorities
- Keeping all medical receipts
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.