Causes of accidents in a public place

Accidents can happen in a public place for a variety of reasons*. Here, we take you through some of the more common ones

Causes of accidents in a public place

Drain and manhole cover accident claims

Drain/manhole cover accident claims usually occur because  a council or local authority failed to fix a faulty manhole cover or drain cover promptly or builders failed to restrict areas where they have removed manhole covers or failed to return them when their work was done.

Establishing liability for injuries suffered in a drain/manhole cover accident

Councils and local authorities may be held responsible for the accident if it is proven that they breached their duty of care. They are expected to identify potential hazards or problems. 

If you have suffered an injury on privately-owned land, the property occupier must eliminate potential hazards that could cause an accident. If the accident happened because of negligence on their part, they will be found liable for the accident under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1995.

If you suffered the injuries while working, your employer may be found liable because they are responsible for your health and safety while at work.

Causes of drain and manhole cover accidents

  • Incorrectly placed covers
  • Unsuitable covers
  • Open or unmarked drains and manholes
  • Raised surfaces 
  • Badly Maintained Covers

Wet floor accident claims

A wet floor accident claim is made by someone who has suffered injuries from slipping on a wet floor. It means that the accident occurred due to a breach of duty of care.

Who is responsible?

If the floor is wet, the person responsible for the area should use a sign to indicate clearly that the floor is slippery and people should take due care. If they don’t and you suffer an injury as a result, you may be able to claim. 

Wet floor accident causes

Wet floor accident claims can happen in virtually any indoor public setting. Common situations include: 

  • No wet floor sign
  • Cleaning underway
  • Grease or oil on the floor
  • Liquid spills in supermarkets
  • Fuel spills in petrol station forecourts

Spillage accident claims

A spillage accident claim is made by someone who has sustained injuries because of a spillage in a public place. A claim is usually successful if it is proven that the accident occurred because somebody neglected their duty of care to the injured person.

Who is responsible?

If something has been spilled, the person responsible for the area should erect a sign to indicate clearly that the surface is hazardous and that people should take due care. If they fail to mark the area adequately and you suffer an injury as a result, you may be able to claim. 

Spillage accident causes

Spillage accident claims can happen in many public settings. Common situations include: 

  • No wet floor sign
  • Grease or oil on the floor
  • Liquid spills in supermarkets
  • Fuel spills in petrol station forecourts

Nut allergy claims

Allergic reactions can result in hospitalisation, the most common admission being for nut allergies. If you have had an allergic reaction from a food that contained nuts, you may be able to claim for damages, if another person was at fault.


Nut allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can kill if not addressed immediately. Anaphylaxis prompts an immune reaction that can make you go into shock. Your blood pressure plummets and your airways narrow to the point that you find it difficult to breathe.  

Who is responsible?

Many claims for nut allergies are made against restaurants or shops that may have failed to alert customers to the  potential presence of nuts in their food. This can result in a  public liability claim against the business.

If you supply food to customers, you are legally obliged to make it clear nuts may be present in the food. The notification should be displayed on menus and packaging or waiting staff must inform diners. Failing to do so could make the supplier of the food liable for causing the allergic reaction. Food suppliers also have a duty of care to fulfill health and safety requirements in kitchens and food preparation areas to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

However, if you know you have a nut allergy, you are expected to take reasonable care regarding your own health and safety. You should carry your medication with you at all times. It is also wise to carry a nut allergy card that alerts others to your allergy if you go into shock and are unable to tell people. If you have an allergic reaction and do not have your medication with you, you may be found partly responsible for the accident.

Pavement injury claims

The local authority or county or town council is usually responsible for maintaining pavements. Other bodies or individuals who allow the public access to their properties are also responsible for maintaining their pavements. If you have an accident involving injury on a footpath, kerb, or pavement, you may be entitled to claim if negligence was involved. 

Causes of pavement accidents

Claims for accidents involving injuries on pavements have become very common, so the body or individual responsible for maintaining the pavement will investigate the cause of the accident thoroughly. Here are some of the possible causes:

  • Poorly laid paving slabs
  • Potholes
  • Excessively high kerbs
  • Damaged kerbs that are not repaired. 
  • Tree roots breaking through pavements
  • Missing slabs or sections
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Missing or damaged drain covers 

Establishing liability 

If you plan to bring a claim for injuries you suffered in a pavement accident, you need to prove who was responsible.  

If the path was poorly maintained, you need to collect photographic evidence of the damage as soon as possible after the accident. If there were witnesses to the accident, you should take their contact details.

Pothole injury claims

Potholes on public roads can cause accidents. If you have been injured in an accident involving a pothole, you may be entitled to make a claim. 

Making a claim

Many of the claims against local authorities and city or town councils are the result of potholes on public roads causing accidents. The authorities are responsible for ensuring that potholes are repaired properly. If they fail to make adequate repairs, resulting in a pothole injury, you could be entitled to make a claim. If you are aware of a pothole that is a potential hazard, you should notify your local council or authority to have it repaired..

Food poisoning claims

If you have been made ill by food poisoning, you may have a valid claim against the provider of the food if they are proved to be negligent. 

Establishing liability

Owners and managers of shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, and other outlets that serve food have a duty of care to employees and customers to prioritise their health and safety. Failing in this duty of care can expose people to unacceptable hazards, including food poisoning. 

Food outlet owners have a duty to identify and eliminate hazards that might cause food poisoning and ensure that hygiene standards are maximised in all food preparation areas. 

To make a successful claim for illness caused by food poisoning, you must prove that the accident was caused by the food provider’s negligence.