In the vast majority of cases where injuries have occurred as a consequence of negligence, it is fairly obvious who could/should be held responsible for the payment of compensation. However, there are numerous occasions where it is not always as straightforward. Indeed, we can only estimate the number of perfectly valid compensation claims which have not been pursued as a consequence of confusion.
We will now take a look at some common situations which have resulted in personal injuries but some confusion as to who may be held fully/partially liable. You will notice that on numerous occasions there may be more than one negligent party who can legally be held responsible.
Over the last couple of years we have seen a reduction in the number of acid attacks across the UK but there has been a huge increase over the last decade. The London Metropolitan Police figures perfectly illustrate this with 77 offences using corrosive fluid reported in 2012 increasing to 465 in 2017. The psychological and physical impact of an acid attack is beyond recognition unless you have experienced this or seen it at first hand.
Medical treatment must obviously be sought as soon as possible to try to reduce the physical/psychological impact. At some point the subject of compensation should be discussed because an attack with a corrosive fluid can be life changing for a victim. Many people automatically assume the only responsible party is the one which threw the liquid – very often they are never found or prosecuted. However, there are venues and occasions where you would (indeed should) expect some measures to protect against such actions.
If you were the victim of an acid attack in a pub, club or a concert venue there is an argument that the management should have taken preventative measures. This could be something as simple as searching those entering the premises or continued vigilance inside the premises. There have been occasions where management of pubs, clubs and concert venues have faced legal action for at least partially responsible for acid attacks. From a legal standpoint, it is worth noting that when on any business premises the management/owner has a legal obligation to ensure the well-being of visitors – as far as is reasonably expected.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is often described as a colourless odourless killer. In years gone by we have seen numerous incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty boilers, often in rented accommodation. It is now a legal obligation for landlords to provide an up-to-date gas safety certificate. This certificate is renewed on an annual basis and it is illegal to rent out any property without a valid certificate.
In rooms which burn solid fuel, such as a wood-burning/multifuel stove, carbon monoxide alarms should be fitted as standard (this is now a legal obligation). This ensures that in the event of a carbon monoxide leak the alarm will activate and the tenants can take the appropriate action. It is worth noting that carbon monoxide can also emanate from cookers, open fires and gas fires. The idea that a tenant is responsible for the upkeep of equipment during their stay is simply wrong. It is the landlord’s obligation to carry out repairs as and when required and ensure the safe well-being of their tenants.
Interestingly, in the event that for example there is a problem with your boiler, and there are carbon monoxide emissions, the equipment must be “deactivated” prior to repair/being replaced. Switching the boiler off while awaiting repair is simply not good enough as this does not prevent misuse. In the event that the machine was switched on in error/desperation and an individual was poisoned by carbon monoxide, the landlord may still be partially liable.
While not a subject people are very comfortable discussing, police negligence and police misconduct does unfortunately occur from time to time. This may be something as straightforward as a physical assault, verbal abuse, discrimination or you may well be a victim of a miscarriage of justice. The term “police misconduct” is best described as an abuse of authority which violates their rights as a police officer, engaging in inappropriate and/or illegal activity.
It is difficult to say with any real confidence the level of police negligence/misconduct in the past but due to smart phones/dash cams many of it is recorded today and used as evidence. We regularly see incidents in the US where law enforcement officers have acted inappropriately and there are such occasions in the UK. The complaints procedure associated with the police force is separate from the police force itself. As a consequence, there is far more transparency today which has assisted those pursuing valid claims of negligence and compensation.
While many may see this as a specialist area, in reality police negligence leading to physical/mental injuries is no different to any other personal injury compensation claim. You just need to prove it.
As more and more people now move towards rented accommodation, due to the rising cost of homes in the UK, housing disrepair has become a major problem. The first thing to say is that a landlord, whether a council or private landlord, has a legal obligation to ensure your home is fit for purpose and safe. No ifs, no buts, if a property is deemed to be unsafe or in disrepair then it should not be available for rent.
Some of the issues which landlords are responsible for include:-
- Damage to the exterior such as walls and roofs
- Heating and the supply of hot water (a legal necessity)
- Pipes, drains and sanitary fixtures in the property
- Chimneys, flues and ventilation
- Electrical wiring
- Communal areas for apartments and flats
While some tenants may feel a temptation to make repairs themselves, this is not advisable. This may well reduce your protection in the event of an accident and it should be the landlord who is footing the bill. Recent legislation now makes it easier for tenants to take landlords to court where they have failed to carry out repairs or they have not been carried out to an acceptable level. Once you sign that tenancy agreement you are not taking on the obligation to carry out repairs to your home, this will always lay with the landlord. Should you be injured because of negligence then you may have a good case to claim compensation from your landlord.
Many of us automatically assume that the use of private or commercial trampolines carries a certain degree of risk. While this is certainly the case, this does not mean that the private/commercial owner of a trampoline is admonished from any responsibility. Legally they have a responsibility to ensure a number of issues such as:-
- All those who use the equipment are briefed regarding safety
- The equipment is in good repair
It is also worth noting that where those in charge of a trampoline have been made aware of safety issues, the trampoline should be removed from use until repaired. From a legal point of view it is not acceptable to continue using equipment which requires repair – no matter how small. This is negligence pure and simple. There will be situations where young children ignore specific safety instructions which can result in injuries. This is a very tricky area of law and even though warnings have been issued the operator may still be held partially responsible. Protecting children from themselves may require investment in additional equipment and possibly safety clothing for the children.
Unfortunately PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) does not need much introduction as it is more commonplace today than ever before. It is a fully fledged officially acknowledged mental illness which has the potential to not only impact an individual’s way of thinking but also their lives. Again, as seems to be commonplace in some areas of the personal injury sector, there is a common assumption that various careers attract PTSD as standard and there is no legal redress:-
- Fire service
- Police service
- Ambulance service
- Healthcare profession
- Armed Forces
One factor many people confuse about PTSD is the fact it can be triggered after witnessing an incident or being involved in an incident. It can relate to one traumatic event or a whole series which could have been witnessed over weeks, months or even years. Where an individual is diagnosed with PTSD they may well be able to pursue compensation for PTSD from their employers or parties who were negligent and caused a traumatic event/series of events. The idea that regular flashbacks and sleepless nights are just “part of life” is a way of thinking which has seen many perfectly valid PTSD compensation claims never pursued.
Many people are surprised to learn that incidents which they initially deem as “simple accidents” may well have been the consequence of negligence by one or more third parties. Even if an individual carried out an initial attack there may well be situations where legal obligations by other third parties have not been met. One example is the use of corrosive liquids which is a major problem across the UK. The fact that, unlike knives and guns for example, corrosive liquid does not show up on safety scanners is a major problem. Therefore, you could argue that pubs, clubs and concert venues have a legal obligation to search all those entering their premises?
The bottom line is that when you are on private or commercial premises then the owner/management have a legal obligation to protect your well-being. In the event of an accident the owner/management may be able to prove they took all reasonable precautions. This scenario would likely lead to, at the very worst, partial negligence but more likely a ruling of no negligence. It does however focus the minds of third parties. Allowing them to understand that while they may not have been directly responsible they could be at least partially negligent when it comes to some personal injuries.