Claims against the council fact sheet

26 February 2015

Highway Authorities and Local Councils have specific responsibilities to protect an individual who uses any public facilities which are owned or managed by them. This legal responsibility covers an individual if they are walking along a pavement or using the road, or attending any public buildings such as schools, leisure centres, playgrounds or any other public buildings.

Should you sustain any injury as a visitor to any public building, please contact us and we can advise you as to whether or not you have a claim against the local Council and help you seek compensation.

If your accident was caused by a problem with a pavement or road, such as a pothole, a raised or loose paving slab or an area of disrepair; it assists your claim if the pothole was at least an inch deep or the paving slab was raised by more than an inch.

It also helps your claim if when you contact us, you are able to provide us with the following information:-

  • Photographs should show the defect that you allege caused your accident. If possible, these should be taken on the day the accident happened, or as close as possible to it. Using a ruler in the photographs showing the dimensions is very helpful. A picture showing you with your finger against the rule measurement, to show how deep or wide any defect is, can provide the exact measurements;
  • On the photographs that you take, at least one of them should show where exactly you fell. For example, if it was an edge of a pavement, the edge that you tripped over should be marked. The direction that you were walking in at the time should also be indicated on the photo.
  • If your camera does not automatically put the date on the photograph, provide us with the date as to when the photograph was taken and by whom, which is also crucial. If the photographs are taken by someone else, ask them to provide a brief letter setting out their name and address, the time and date that they took the photographs and confirming that they took these photographs for you and whether or not you were with them at the time.
  • At least one of the photographs should show the defect in the context of the surroundings. Showing the photograph near lampposts, outside a particular street sign or near a house showing the house number, allows any Highway Inspector to quickly locate the area.
Witness information
  • Names and addresses of any witnesses to your accident. If there were not any, you can approach local residents around where the defect is located and ask them how long the defect has been in place before your accident. Finding out from them whether or not they have previously made any complaints to the Council is also helpful information, when and to whom.
  • If you reported the accident to the Council or another person, their name and the date when you did. We can then contact them to be able to obtain a formal witness statement.
  • If there were no immediate witnesses, but you then went home and told somebody immediately after the accident that it happened, please provide us with their name and contact details so that we can contact them to obtain a witness statement. This may be useful if you have not obtained medical treatment straight away as they will be the first person who would have been aware that you had the accident.
Street plan
  • This shows us whether the accident site is located near a school, areas which attract a lot of pedestrian traffic, such as shops, schools or a busy area.
  • If the area has changed since your accident, Google maps street view may still be able to show you what it was like at the time.