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

Dog bite claims

If you or your child have suffered a dog bite, you may be entitled to pursue an injury claim. Even if the attack does not involve a bite, you may be able to claim for such personal injuries as shock or lasting anxiety.

Establishing Liability 

Until the The Control of Dogs Act 1986 (Section 21), victims of dog attacks had to prove a mischievous propensity in the dog. This usually meant demonstrating that the dog had previously attacked someone else. Since 1986, however, the dog owner is liable for damage caused in an attack by the dog and for injury done by it to any livestock. When seeking damages now, you no longer have to show a previous mischievous propensity in the dog or to show that the injury or damage was due to neglect on the part of the dog owner.

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.

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.

Football accident claims

Injuries can happen in football that are nobody’s fault. If reckless, negligent, or deliberately dangerous behaviour has caused your football injury, you may be able to claim.

Establishing liability

A good solicitor will guide you through the process of making a football injury claim. This could involve injuries suffered in a dangerous tackle or because of poor pitch conditions. Such an injury could have life-changing consequences. 

It is important to establish that the accident occurred because somebody else was negligent or breached their duty of care.

Common football accident causes

  • Dangerous tackles
  • Slips and falls
  • Poor pitch conditions
  • Bad weather
  • Inexperienced players
  • Defective equipment

Horse riding accident claims

If you are injured in a horse riding accident that was not your fault, you could claim compensation. You could be involved in a road traffic accident, an accident at a competition, or another kind of accident while horse riding. 

Establishing liability

Working with horses in any capacity will always involve risks, but you have a legal right to be kept safe by those responsible for your wellbeing. This could include instructors, stable owners, or other road users. Your solicitor will help you identify how to make a claim against those responsible.

Your horse riding accident claim

Financial compensation can help finance your medical treatment, travel costs, and loss of income if you are unable to work. Generally, you will have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim. Exceptions include:

  • Claims on behalf of children can be made at any stage before your child is 18. 
  • There are no time limits on making a claim on behalf of someone who doesn’t have the mental capacity to claim themselves.

Jogging accident claims

Jogging accidents generally take the form of slip or fall accident* in a public place. The reasons for jogging accidents are varied, as are the kinds of injuries that can result. 

Usually, the jogger trips over an obstacle or pothole, and, if

the occupier of the land did not maintain it correctly, they may be found liable for any injuries sustained. Claims for injuries suffered in a jogging accident are made through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

Who is responsible?

Establishing who is responsible for causing the accident is an important first step in the claims process. If the accident took place in a public place, the local council will probably be found liable because they are generally responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of public places. Breaching their duty of care to ensure that visitors have a safe environment can lead to injuries being suffered. They must also notify visitors of any risk that could lead to an accident. 

Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1995, owners and occupiers of private land must ensure the health and safety of all visitors. The property should be maintained to a standard that safeguards both themselves and visitors. They are also expected to make regular risk assessments of the property. They will be found liable for any accident found to have been caused by their negligence or a breach of duty of care.

You may not be entitled to make a claim for injuries if it is found that you contributed to the cause of the accident, through contributory negligence..

Lift accident claims

Lift failures can cause serious accidents. If you have been injured in one, it is important to prove who was responsible. Consult a solicitor to help you bring a claim.

Establishing liability

Responsibility for a lift accident could lie with the company that fitted the lift in the first place.They must ensure the lift is fitted properly and that all parts function correctly and safely. Lift users must also ensure that they are using the lift safely and responsibly.

Common lift accident causes

  • Loose clothing becoming trapped
  • Lift stopping between floors
  • Defective electrical systems
  • Unexpected stoppages

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.. 

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

Sports accident claims

Sporting accidents are often nobody’s fault and are simply the result of the sport’s inherent risks (e.g. injuries suffered playing contact sports such as rugby).  However, if you can establish that your injuries were sustained because of negligence, you may be able to make a sports accident claim. 

Establishing liability

Faulty equipment or poorly maintained grounds or facilities may be to blame for the accident that caused your injuries.  Sporting spectators can also claim for personal injuries caused by negligence of safety measures.

Sporting accident injuries

Sporting accident injuries can cause lasting damage and/or loss of earnings because of absence from work.  Such injuries range from fractures and broken bones to scarring and soft tissue injuries.

How to start a sports injury claim

Your solicitor will help you prepare a case for lodging with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.  If you have been involved in a sport accident or an accident on a sports ground that was not your fault, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

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

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