Accidents in Public Places
Avoidable accidents occur in public places across Ireland every day from carparks, to beaches, to footpaths and the injuries range from the very minor to the very complex.
Your local authority or your local county council are in charge of the majority of roadways, footpaths, bridges, beaches and public parks and they have obligations to the public. The legal liability for local authorities is divided into two categories:
- “nonfeasance” is the failure of the local authority to act, repair, or make any defect on a road surface or footpath etc.
- “misfeasance” which is the negligent repair of the road surface, footpath, park etc.
Local authorities are traditionally immune from legal liability if they neglected or omitted to repair a public road or footpath and this is nonfeasance. If however, the local authority does make some attempt to repair the roadway, footpath but does so badly then they may be liable if an accident occurs, this is misfeasance.
The owners of shops, offices, hotels and other public places have a greater obligation to take care for the safety of their visitors. Their obligations arise under the Occupiers Liability Act 1995.
What type of accidents in public places can you be compensated for?
A public place constitutes any area that is accessible to the public, be it indoors or outdoors and a public place accident can be an accident in the street, an accident on the footpath, an accident in a shop, an accident in a gym etc.
A public liability claim involves seeking compensation for an injury you sustained in a public place due to the fault or negligence of another party. It is the injured parties obligation through their solicitor to prove that the other party was negligent and that this negligence then caused your injuries.
At McElhinney & Associates Solicitors we have represented a large number of claimants for public place accidents and the most common type of cases we have been involved in is slips in wet floors in supermarkets, falls due to uneven pavements and accidents due to poorly repaired potholes.
If you have been injured in a public place in the last two years you should contact the experienced solicitors at McElhinney & Associates.
How do I make a public place accident claim?
If you are able to obtain all the information as mentioned above then you should make contact with a solicitors firm who has extensive experience in public place accidents such as McElhinney & Associates Solicitors.
We will take all the information from you, we will contact the insurers for the other driver. We will make contact with your GP to obtain a medical report setting out the extent of your injuries and we will then lodge an application with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board on your behalf.
How long after an accident must I make a claim?
It is really important that you begin to investigate the claim as soon as possible and as soon as you are physically well to do so. This is because details from an accident can be lost such as a road layout may change or vehicles can be fixed before they are photographed. The nature and extent of the damage to each vehicle can be a very important piece of evidence in determining how the accident happened.
If you have had an accident, be it a public place accident, workplace accident, slip trip or fall, there has always been an obliged on you to serve a letter of claim on the responsible party, setting out the cause of your action and details of the injury suffered by you.
Section 13 of the Central Bank (National Claims Information Database) Act 2018, which took effect from the 28th of January 2019, states that any Plaintiff who wishes to bring personal injury proceeding must serve a letter of claim within one month from the date of the accident. If they fail to do so and the case is ultimately heard by a Judge, then that Judge “shall” draw such inferences as appear proper and either refuse to award legal costs to the Plaintiff or reduce the costs, where the interests of justice so require.
So therefore, any person intending to bring a personal injury action must immediately make contact with your Solicitor following the accident, otherwise, it is mandatory for the trial Judge to impose adverse consequences on the Plaintiff.
You do have two years from the date of the accident to lodge your claim with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board, however, you must now serve your warning letter on the other party within one month from the date of the accident.
How is compensation assessed?
Compensation for injuries is often referred to as damages. Damages can be divided into general damages and special damages. General damages are the amount of money to compensate you for the pain and suffering that you have endured as a result of the injury together with compensation for any inconvenience and loss of amenity.
General damages can also be assessed for pain and suffering into the future.
The Injuries Board has a book of quantum which provided a guideline for the range of values ascribed to particular injuries.
In addition to general damages, special damages may also be awarded. Special damages are items that must be paid to put somebody back in the same financial position that they were prior to the accident or injury taking place. The most common item of special damage claimed by a Claimant is loss of earnings. This would cover past loss of earnings up to the date of the claim and also any future loss of earnings.
Other items of expenditure can also be recovered, for example GP visits, specialist treatment, pharmacy costs, travelling expenses, physiotherapy expenses, nursing care, aids and appliances that might be required as a result of the injury.
It is so important that a Claimant retains receipts for any item of expenditure incurred by them. The Injuries Board and the court require “vouching documentation” i.e. receipts if they are to deal with these expenditure claims.
How do I know if my assessment is appropriate?
There is no easy answer to this question. If you have consulted the Injuries Board book of quantum you will have an idea of the range of values within which your injury falls.
Claimants should be very careful that if their prognosis is not yet final. If the prognosis is not final you may require further surgery or further treatment into the future, however, if you settle your claim then you have no right to re-open that case again no matter what further surgeries or interventions you require.
In order to decide whether the assessment is appropriate for your injuries, you should defer to your solicitor who has years of experience of settling these cases and will be able to assist you in placing a value on your case.
Why choose McElhinney & Associates Solicitors?
The Solicitors in McElhinney & Associates Solicitors have extensive knowledge in dealing with all type of personal injury slip, trip and fall claims, ranging from the very minor to the very serious resulting in compensation of millions of euros due to life changing injuries.
We have two office locations in Ireland, in both Donegal and Dublin. We can meet with you face to face, or we have a large conference room facility where we can talk virtually to you about your case.
If you have had a public place accident we can assist you in preparing and prosecuting your case in a robust manner so that you receive the compensation that you deserve