Claim compensation for an accident in public
If you have been injured in an accident in a public place, you could be entitled to make a no win no fee personal injury compensation claim.
How Much Could You Claim?

Accident in Public Places Claims

Property owners and occupiers have a legal duty to keep all public premises safe for visitors. If you were injured in a public place due to their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Public areas include shops, restaurants, hotels, gyms, pavements and parks, to name a few.

Such accidents include slips, trips and falls, injuries from falling objects, electric shocks and criminal assaults. These could lead to injuries ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe brain and spinal cord damage. Your accident in public may have caused you a lot of pain and affected various aspects of your life, such as the ability to work and enjoy leisure activities.

If another party was at least partially responsible for the harm you suffered, you could make an accident in public claim. To find out more about your legal rights, call 0800 032 3660 or enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back.

What represents a public place?

According to the Public Order Act 1986, a public place is considered any area that is open to the public or where the public has access. Common examples include:

  • Roads and pavements
  • Parks, gardens and recreational areas
  • Shops and shopping centres
  • Cafes, pubs and restaurants
  • Hotels and other accommodations
  • Government buildings, libraries and museums
  • Beaches
  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Schools and universities
  • Bus and train stations

The local councils, as well as private owners and occupiers of public spaces, must keep these areas safe and free of hazards that could cause injuries to visitors. If they fail to do so, the injured person may be eligible to make an accident in public compensation claim.

Can I make an accident in public claim?

The easiest way to find out if you can claim accident in public compensation is through a consultation with a legal adviser. They will ask you a few questions about your situation to determine whether:

  • Another party owed you a duty of care
  • They breached their duty by acting negligently
  • Their negligence led to an accident or incident
  • You suffered an injury as a result

You do not have to worry about proving a legal duty of care. Your solicitor will do this by referring to legislation such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 and the Highways Act 1980. But you must keep in mind that there are strict time limits for starting a claim, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible after your accident in public.

Once they establish liability, your solicitor will help you gather the necessary evidence to support your claim and inform the other side of your intentions to pursue compensation. If they admit being at fault, you can start to negotiate a settlement. Otherwise, your solicitor will issue court proceedings. Even so, it is doubtful your case will go to trial, as more than 95% of all claims are resolved out of court.

You could also start a personal injury claim on behalf of your child or another loved one who cannot claim themselves. A solicitor can help you apply to the court to be appointed as their litigation friend and then guide you through all the steps of the claims process.

What evidence could I use to support my personal injury claim?

To make a successful public place accident claim, you will need various evidence to show:

  • How the accident occurred
  • Who was at fault for it
  • The type and extent of the damage you suffered
  • How this has affected your life

During your free initial consultation, your solicitor will evaluate the evidence you have, and if they take on your case, they will help you gather anything else you may need. The types of proof you should collect to support a claim include:

  • Photographs or videos of the accident scene, including the cause of your injuries, before anything is removed or replaced;
  • A copy of an accident report you should file with the responsible party to prove the date, time and location of the incident;
  • Medical records that show the type of injuries you sustained and treatments you received;
  • Other medical evidence, such as diagnostic tests and doctor’s notes about your recovery prospects;
  • Names and contact details of any witnesses to your accident who might later testify to support your version of the events;
  • If the area has CCTV cameras, you should also try to obtain a copy of the footage and remember such recordings are usually deleted within a month;
  • Your notes about how the accident happened, the injuries you sustained and how they have affected your life and ability to work and do daily activities;
  • Evidence of all the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to the accident, such as medication costs and lost wages.

Your solicitor may also arrange a free medical exam with a specialist who will determine the long-term effects of your injuries and any ongoing care needs you may have.

Common types of accidents in public

The most common types of accidents in public spaces that may lead to injury compensation include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls. These are the most common accidents in public and can be due to uneven surfaces, wet floors, poorly maintained walkways, potholes, or debris;
  • Fall from height. Accidents involving falls from stairs, ramps, or other elevated areas due to a lack of guardrails or inadequate warning signs;
  • Elevator and escalator accidents. Malfunctions, sudden stops, or other issues with elevators and escalators can lead to injuries;
  • Crowd-related incidents. Injuries can occur in crowded places due to pushing, shoving, or stampedes, especially during events or gatherings that are not properly organised;
  • Assaults and violence. Incidents involving physical altercations, assaults, or violence in public areas can also lead to a claim if a property owner has failed to take all reasonable measures to protect you;
  • Playground accidents. Injuries sustained in public playgrounds, parks, or recreational areas due to equipment malfunctions or unsafe conditions;
  • Dog bites. Attacks or bites from dogs and other animals in public places can also lead to a compensation claim;
  • Falling objects. Objects falling from shelves or buildings in public areas due to poorly secured items, structural failures or faulty racks;
  • Swimming pool accidents. These include accidents at public swimming pools, hotels, water parks, or recreational aquatic facilities, such as drowning, entrapment or chemical burns;
  • Electric shocks. Such accidents can be due to faulty wiring, exposed power outlets, or improperly maintained electrical equipment.

This list is not exhaustive, and other accidents may lead to a public injury claim as long as another party was at least partially at fault for it.

Common injuries caused by accidents in public places

Accidents in public places can lead to many injuries, ranging from minor to severe. These can vary based on the nature of the accident and the specific circumstances and include:

  • Burn injuries. Burn injuries in public places can result from contact with hot surfaces, scalding liquids, or faulty equipment. They can vary in severity, causing pain, blistering, and potential long-term damage to the skin.
  • Electric shock injuries. These injuries may range from minor shock to more severe, life-threatening consequences, affecting the nervous system and vital organs.
  • Sprains and strains. These injuries involve damage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons, causing pain, swelling, and restricted movement.
  • Fractures and dislocations. Falls, collisions, or crush incidents may cause these injuries, resulting in pain, swelling, and impaired function of the affected body part.
  • Psychological injuries. Traumatic events or accidents in public places can impact mental well-being and cause anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Animal bites. These can cause puncture wounds, lacerations, risk of infection, and potential scarring.
  • Eye injuries. Foreign objects, chemical exposures, or trauma can cause injuries ranging from minor irritations to severe damage that may permanently affect vision.
  • Crush injuries. Crush injuries can result from crowded events, structural collapses, or falling objects and cause compression and trauma to various body parts.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries. Falls, impacts, and other accidents in public can cause back injuries or damage to the spinal cord. These may lead to pain, mobility issues, or, in severe cases, paralysis.
  • Head injuries. Such injuries range from mild concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms may include headaches, dizziness, or cognitive impairment.
  • Cuts and abrasions. Contact with sharp objects, broken glass, or uneven surfaces in public places can cause cuts and scrapes. These injuries may vary in severity and require proper cleaning to prevent infection.

Duty of care in public liability claims

If you have been injured in a public place and decide you want to claim, your solicitor will determine who is liable for compensation. Based on your circumstances, the defendant will typically be:

The local council

Local councils have duties under the Highways Act 1980 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They must follow the required health and safety regulations to keep the chances of accidents to a minimum. Their duties include:

  • Conduct regular inspections of public places to identify and address potential hazards;
  • Provide adequate street lighting;
  • Inspect buildings to prevent accidents related to poorly constructed or maintained structures;
  • Clean up spillages and debris as quickly as possible;
  • Ensure roads, pavements, and walkways are well-maintained and safe for use;
  • Signpost any hazards like wet floors, potholes or faulty street furniture.

A property owner or occupier

Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984, the owner or occupier of public areas, such as shops, pubs and restaurants, must ensure that all visitors are safe on their premises. Their duties include:

  • Provide staff with the necessary training to carry out their job safely;
  • Maintain good housekeeping and keep the premises safe and in good repair;
  • Provide clear and visible warning signs to alert visitors of hazards;
  • Take extra precautions to safeguard children and vulnerable individuals;
  • Keep all walkways clear of obstacles;
  • Ensure there is no snow, ice or debris in car parks and entrance areas;
  • Promptly repair any defects and have a reasonable system of inspection in place.

If a business owner or local authority has failed in their duty of care towards you, you may be able to claim compensation for an accident in public. 

Frequently asked questions:

An accident in a public place can have various consequences for which you could claim compensation. Below, we have answered some of the most common questions we receive from claimants about personal injury claims. If you want more information or to discuss your case with an experienced solicitor, do not hesitate to get in touch by calling free on 0800 032 3660.

What is the time limit to make a claim for an accident in a public place?

The time limit to claim compensation is typically three years from the date of the accident in public. This limitation date is set out by the Limitation Act 1980, and the court will only accept a claim that falls within it. There are, however, a few exceptions that may apply to the standard three-year time limit, such as:

  • In the case of child accident claims, the limitation date only begins on their 18th birthday. Before that, a parent or another adult could make a claim for compensation on their behalf.
  • The time limit is suspended if the injured person lacks capacity under the Mental Health Act 1983. A litigation friend could claim compensation for them anytime, as there is no time limit.
  • If you were the victim of a criminal assault, you have two years to claim compensation through the CICA.
  • If you lost a loved one due to an accident in a public place, you have three years to make a fatal injury claim from the date of death.

How much compensation could I receive for a public injury claim?

The amount of accident in public compensation you could receive depends on the type and extent of your injuries and the related financial expenses. Your solicitor will ensure all your losses are included in your accident claim. You can recover two types of damages:

General damages are awarded for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity caused by the injury. Examples include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Loss of companionship
  • Reduced quality of life

Special damages are awarded for the related economic losses and expenses, such as:

  • Private medical care and prescriptions
  • Medical aids like wheelchairs and prostheses
  • Costs of care and help with daily living
  • Travel expenses for medical visits
  • Loss of wages and earning capacity

You can check out our compensation calculator to see how much you could receive for general damages for your injury. The award for special damages will be calculated based on the evidence you can produce, such as receipts, bank statements and pay slips.

Can public accident claims be made on a No Win No Fee basis?

If you are entitled to compensation, your personal injury solicitor will offer you a no win no fee* agreement. That means you do not have to pay them anything upfront to start your claim. Your injury lawyer only receives a success fee if and after you receive your compensation award. This fee can be up to 25% of your settlement.

The After the Event (ATE) insurance policy included in your arrangement will ensure you do not pay any legal charges or disbursements if your case fails. It will cover all your costs, such as court fees, medical reports and the defendant’s expenses, which you could otherwise be liable for. This ensures you will never be left out of pocket when making a claim.

To find out if you can make a public place claim, call 0800 032 3660 today or use our online claim form to request a no-obligation, free case assessment.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.