Have a Successful Trip: making a claim against a Local Authority for a highway defect

The Highways Act 1980 imposes a duty on Local Authorities to maintain highways which are defined as public roads and footpaths. Theoretically, this means that the Local Authority would be to blame if an injury is caused by a trip or slip as a result of a defective road or footpath.

The law does, however, provide that the defect must be deemed dangerous before the authority can be expected to repair it. In some cases, the Authorities may have a defence if they can show that they inspect the road on a regular basis and that the defect was not there at the time of the last inspection, but your solicitor will always consider the reasonableness of this inspection regime.

To make a claim against a Local Authority for an injury you sustained on a highway, you need to prove to a judge that:

a. The defect was dangerous.

b. The defect should have been repaired before the accident date.

There are a couple of things you can do to increase your chances of making a successful claim:

1. Take good quality photographs of the defect soon after the accident to show that the defect as dangerous enough to warrant intervention. Without photographs, a claim is unlikely to succeed.

As shown in the photographs below, you should use a measuring tape to show the depth and/or width of the defect and take a photograph from further away to show the general location of the defect.






2. Take witness statements. Often the people in the nearby vicinity who live or work locally will be able to tell you how long a defect has been present. Passers-by who, for example, walk their dogs along the road every day can be of great help.

Witness evidence can also be hugely beneficial if the Local Authority defend the claim by saying they were not aware of the defect. If anyone can assist you with providing evidence you should ask for their details, including a telephone number.

You'll then need to pass the evidence, including photographs and details of witnesses, to your solicitor, who will progress the claim for you.

At Emsleys, we have a team of legal experts who have many years' experience in claims relating to trips and slips, as well as road traffic accidents, workplace accidents and complex cases involving brain, head, spinal and catastrophic injuries.

We operate on a no win, no fee basis. If we win your case, we take our fee in part from the losing party (usually the insurance company) and partly from you. The part payable by you is paid for from the compensation you receive, but this is limited to a maximum of 25% of your award.

If you'd like to speak to an expert about making a claim, please give us a call on 0113 232 103 or email personal.injury@emsleys.co.uk.

For further information on similar types of claim take a look at our Personal Injury frequently asked questions section.

William Armstrong

Written by

William Armstrong

Notary Public and Personal Injury

William is a solicitor with over 8 years’ experience. He works within our Personal Injury team, specialising in claims for accidents on the highway. William has also recently qualified as a Notary Public and can validate documents for international transactions.

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