Cromptons Solicitors is accredited by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and our Solicitors deal with every type of Personal Injury claim from road traffic collisions (RTA) to accident injury at work (EL Claims) or in a public place (PL claims) right the way through to Serious Injury claims involving head injury and spinal injury. We have specialist teams dealing solely with these claims including cases where Complex Regional Pain Syndrome has been diagnosed.
At the weekend we heard news that a ceiling collapsed at the popular restaurant Sizzling Palate in Bolton, whilst full of diners, leaving some people injured by falling masonry. The emergency services were on the scene quickly and we hear that luckily there were no fatalities. We wish those who have suffered injury a speedy recovery.
Altaf Patel, partner in the personal injury team and a Senior Litigator accredited by (APIL), looks at the law that tries to prevent such accidents from occurring and the remedies that an injured person has.
Members of the public who visit shows, attractions, restaurants or hotels go to these venues with a reasonable expectation that the place is safe for them to visit. There is a raft of legislation in place to try and ensure that an occupier maintains safe premises and a failure to comply can lead to the injured person being able to bring a personal injury claim.
Under the Occupiers Liability Act (OLA) an occupier (who may be the owner or manager of a premises) owes a “common duty of care” to all their visitors. This is a duty to take such care to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose(s) for which they are invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.
Section 2 of the OLA 1957 lays down a duty on behalf of the occupier of the premises that it is reasonably safe for the visitor to use. Developments in case law suggests this duty is not an absolute duty to prevent injury and the emphasis is on the word ‘reasonable’.
Where cases have been successful, the circumstances of the incidents all have been, or appear to have been, due to failures in equipment or procedures that should not have occurred or due to the unsafe state of the premises itself.
For a case to be successful, there must have been a failure on the part of the owner / occupier to adhere to safety requirements rather than any injury arising due to pure ‘accident’ that could not have been foreseen or as a result of any action or failure by a visitor to take care for their own safety. It is important to identify actual breaches of duty under the legislation rather than assuming a claim will succeed just because the incident occurred on someone else’s property or venue. Quite clearly, it is not every day that a ceiling collapses in a venue or restaurant and the cause would have to be investigated.
In order for the occupier of the premises to discharge their duty to visitors, they will need to:
Show that risk assessments have been carried out so that potential risks can be identified and then reduced to the lowest level reasonably practicable.
Carry out regular inspections to ensure the integrity of the premises (which will include the associated plant and equipment) remains reasonably safe.
If hazards have been identified, these hazards may need to be cordoned off or highlighted to visitors in some sufficient way so that the hazard can be noticed and avoided.
Any employees injured in such an incident would need to look at the Health and Safety legislation for recourse. Whilst Health and Safety legislation is often thought to apply only to employees, specific parts of the legislation can also apply to visitors to somewhere that is a place of work. (for example, a courier making a delivery) The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) places a duty on employers to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that in the course of their activities persons who are not their employees are not put at risk of injury. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require an employer to “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of their undertaking”. Breach of the Health and Safety legislation which results in injury can give rise to both civil liability and criminal prosecution.
Cromptons Solicitors acts and have acted for clients who have successfully claimed damages following breaches of the OLA and under the Health and Safety Legislation. Our experience, approach, dedication and commitment set us apart from our competitors. Our reputation is built on our friendly, honest expertise offered by our Partners and Staff. You can contact Cromptons Solicitors on 01204 589009 or by visiting our website www.cromptonssolicitors.co.uk