Defective or loose drain and manhole covers not only pose a major threat to pedestrians but they can also cause major damage to vehicles and potential injuries to drivers. Damaged and broken manhole covers and drain covers are just one of many dangers on our roads, highways and pavements but if you receive an injury as a consequence of a defective or loose manhole cover then you may be able to claim compensation. It is irrelevant whether the manhole cover is located on private property or public property, it will be the responsibility of one or more parties, and you will be able to lodge a personal injury claim against them after proving negligence.
Who Is Responsible For Maintaining Manhole Covers?
Manhole covers on public roads, highways and pavements will likely be the responsibility of a service provider such as a water company or the council. There have been changes in the ownership of local water/sewage companies over the years but it should be fairly straightforward to find the underlying owner. Where a manhole or drain cover is located on private property the likelihood is that it is the responsibility of the property owner although this could have been transferred to the local water/sewage company in exchange for maintaining their facilities.
Whichever party, there is a legal duty of care to ensure that manhole covers and drain covers are checked on a regular basis and action taken to ensure they are as safe as possible.
Injuries Caused By Manhole Cover Accidents
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate the potential danger surrounding loose and defective manhole covers because they often hide a deep entrance to sewage/water facilities below. The following is a short list of injuries that can occur from manhole cover accidents including:
- Cuts, sprains and grazes from tripping over defective manhole covers
- Serious leg injuries
Those who fall the full depth of a deep manhole could be entering either a sewage or water system and we can only imagine the potential level of contamination and bacteria in these environments. This could easily result in a potentially fatal injury or life-threatening infection taking in an array of dangerous diseases.
Employee’s Injured By A Manhole Cover
There will be occasions where an employee is injured as a consequence of a defective, loose or missing manhole cover encountered during their normal working activities. It will obviously depend upon the circumstances surrounding the accident but there is a legal duty of care for employers to ensure that their employees are safe at all times. There are a number of reasons why manhole covers may have been lifted which include:
- Flood damage
- Replacing damaged equipment
This short list is by no means inclusive but it does give you an idea of why a manhole cover might have been lifted intentionally and the potential consequences. Whether or not the employer was directly or indirectly involved with the damage to the manhole cover on their premises they may still be held negligent because it is their responsibility. If they can prove that the defective manhole cover had been checked previously and was in good working order then they may well be able to reduce the level of negligence or even eliminate it in some circumstances.
Seeking Medical Attention After A Manhole Cover Injury
If you experience an injury has a consequence of a defective, loose or missing manhole cover it is essential that you seek medical assistance as soon as possible. While injuries such as cuts and bruises and broken bones will be immediately visible other potential issues such as concussion and infection may take some time to emerge. It is therefore imperative that medical attention is received as soon as possible and the full circumstances of the incident are explained to the medical professional treating your injury. They will be able to administer the relevant treatment which could involve injections to protect against potentially dangerous infections. It is also worth noting that details of the initial examination, treatment received and detail surrounding the incident will be noted on an individual’s medical records. These can be used in a court of law if you decide to pursue a manhole/drain cover compensation claim.
This is perhaps one of the main situations where photographic evidence of a loose/defective/;broken or missing manhole cover is vital when pursuing a personal injury compensation claim. Photos together with witness statements, similar incidents of loose/defective manhole covers, CCTV coverage and a copy of the responsible party’s accident book can form the basis of a very strong claim.
Proving Negligence In Manhole Cover Compensation Claims
In order to pursue a successful manhole cover compensation claim the initial goal is to prove negligence on behalf of one or more third parties. As we briefly touched on above, unless the responsible third party is able to provide evidence that they served their duty of care they will likely be held responsible for any injury/illness. Over the years we have seen instances of vandalism where manhole covers and drain covers have been lifted but even this may not be enough to escape liability because the courts may rule the manhole/drain covers were not safe and secure.
In tandem with all personal injury claims, there is a three year window of opportunity during which you can pursue a claim for injuries incurred as a result of missing/defective/loose manhole covers. However, it is advisable to pursue a claim sooner rather than later to ensure details of the incident do not become blurred in your mind, something which can reduce the strength of your case.
Lodging A Manhole/Drain Cover Compensation Claim
If you believe you have a strong claim for injury/illness received as a consequence of a defective/loose/missing manhole cover, you should present this evidence to a personal injury solicitor. They will have experience with similar situations and be able to advise you of the next course of action and the strength of your claim. If a personal injury solicitor concludes you are entitled sto be compensated they will in all probability offer start a claim immediately on a No Win No Fee arrangement. To discuss claiming for a manhole cover injury on a No Win No Fee basis please contact us today and we’ll gladly explain how the process works.
In most cases of people injured by a manhole cover where there is clear negligence on behalf of a third party, the chances are the defendant will look towards an out-of-court settlement which will reduce the defendant’s expenses and lead to a swift payment of compensation. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached, negligence is contested or there are potentially a number of negligent parties, your case will go to court. A judge will make a negligence ruling based upon evidence given by the defendant and the claimant together with an appropriate level of compensation.
Compensation For Injuries Caused By A Drain/Manhole Cover
There are two distinct types of compensation in manhole cover injury claims which may be available to those pursuing a claim through the courts. The first compensation type is known as general damages and relates to compensation for issues such as:
- Pain and suffering from the injury
- Life changing injury/injuries
- Mental trauma
In theory the level of general compensation is open-ended and at the discretion of either the insurance company or the judge. In reality, guidance produced by the Judicial College will highlight compensation awards in the past for similar injuries as a basis for any compensation payment. This guidance has no legal backing and is certainly not set in stone but it is regularly used by the courts and insurance companies as a starting point. There is also a degree of discretion/variation available when calculating the level of general damages compensation which will take into account the specifics of individual cases.
The second type of compensation in manhole cover injury claims is known as special damages and relates to financial recompense for costs incurred and future expenses. This will take in the likes of:
• Earnings lost as a result of the injury
• Predicted future loss of earnings
• Medical expenses
• Predicted future medical expenses
• Adaptions to the home
• Additional transport costs
There is no room for variation or discretion when it comes to special damages and future funding requirements will be calculated using professional personnel with the appropriate level of knowledge and experience. When you bear in mind the potentially serious nature of a manhole cover related injury, whether bacterial infection, broken bones or worse, this can lead to a significant level of compensation.
The Importance Of Pursuing Personal Injury Compensation
Those who suffer relatively minor injuries as a consequence of defective,damaged,missing or loose manhole covers may be tempted to dismiss their injuries and decide not to proceed with a claim for compensation. The problem is that responsible parties are unlikely to change their way of ensuring manhole covers and drain covers are safe and secure in the future unless they feel some kind of financial penalty. While many people will point towards compensation as the main reason for pursuing a claim, we have seen many safety procedures amended and adjusted as a consequence of legal action.
So, while much of the focus will be upon the level of compensation awarded in a manhole injury claim, the opportunity to prompt change and a safer environment in the future should never be underestimated.