Occupiers liability compensation claims
If you suffer an accident in a shop, restaurant, pub or any other public place, you could be entitled to make an occupiers liability claim for injury compensation.
How Much Could You Claim?

Occupiers liability claims

An occupier is an individual, business, or another organisation that controls privately owned premises. They have a legal obligation to ensure that those who visit the premises are safe, and this duty of care even extends to trespassers. Occupiers must conduct risk assessments regularly and eliminate or minimise any hazards as part of their duty.

Any risks found during an assessment must be taken care of promptly. Anyone who has suffered injuries because of a breach of this legal duty is entitled to make an occupiers liability claim.

The following article explains public liability claims, including the types of incidents for which you could claim compensation, the legal obligations of occupiers and the relevant legislation to this area of personal injury law.

To find out if you could make a claim, call 0800 032 3660 or enter your details into our online claim form to request a call back. A personal injury solicitor will be happy to assess your case and answer any questions you have about the claims process.

The law relating to occupiers liability claims

The Occupiers Liability Act 1957 (OLA 1957) is the primary law that establishes the duty of care of occupiers towards the general public. It applies to all occupiers of property and places, including homeowners, landlords, councils, land and business owners. This legislation details that all lawful visitors to a property have a legal right to expect a safe environment. That means the law protects all people invited to the premises or with access to the property.

The law also protects unlawful visitors, whether they recognise themselves as trespassing or not. Under this Act, the owners of public buildings and other spaces have several duties, including:

  • Check and fix any problems in the area regularly to ensure that it is safe.
  • Keep the place clean and tidy to avoid slip, trip and fall accidents.
  • Use warning signs or barriers to alert visitors of potential dangers, like wet floors or construction zones.
  • Ensure adequate lighting, especially in areas where people walk or work.
  • Make any necessary repairs within a reasonable time frame.
  • Take additional precautions to keep kids safe by securing access to dangerous places and making things childproof.
  • Teach workers about safety rules, especially when they are helping visitors.
  • Follow the relevant health and safety regulations, building codes, and other laws.
  • Have a plan for what to do in case of accidents or fire.
  • Keep a record of safety checks, fixes, and maintenance. These documents can be crucial in liability cases.

If there has been a breach of duty and you suffered an injury, you might be entitled to occupiers liability compensation.

Who is eligible to make an occupiers liability claim?

Occupiers of premises must take reasonable care to ensure all visitors are safe from injuries. The common law duty of care covers all properties such as shops, pubs, restaurants, local authority buildings, playgrounds, offices, and schools. All these can be held accountable for accidents caused by negligence. Under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957, any person who sustains an injury in any place that is the occupier’s responsibility may have a claim for compensation.

Your solicitor will need to determine the occupier’s liability to make a successful claim. You must prove that they failed to take the necessary steps to keep you reasonably safe and that this breach of duty has resulted in an injury. The section below offers detailed information about the evidence you could use to support your claim.

Claiming compensation may still be possible if there is a shared liability burden and you are partially at fault for your injuries. In this case, your solicitor will work to reach a split liability agreement. If you make a successful claim, you will receive a reduced compensation award to reflect your part of the blame.

What evidence could I use to support my claim?

If you were involved in an accident on someone else’s property and want to start a compensation claim, you will need evidence to support your case. This should show how your accident occurred, your injuries, and how they have affected your life. Your lawyer will review any proof you have managed to secure and help you gather any further documentation you may need. These could include:

  • Photographs and videos of the accident scene. These should include any hazards or dangerous conditions that caused the incident before anything is removed, cleaned or repaired;
  • Contact details of witnesses who saw the accident or the dangerous condition that led to it. Witness statements can strengthen your case;
  • A signed copy of an accident report you filed at the scene. This report may contain important details about the incident;
  • Your medical records are essential evidence. They should detail your injuries, the treatment you received, and any future medical needs or complications related to the injury;
  • Records showing the maintenance history of the property or premises can show whether the occupier was aware of and addressing hazards;
  • If the incident occurred in a location with surveillance cameras, request a copy of the CCTV footage;
  • A detailed account of the incident, including what happened before, during, and after the accident;
  • You should also keep and provide all documents related to your financial losses, such as receipts and invoices.

To find out what else you need to claim for injury compensation, please call 0800 032 3660 today to speak to an expert solicitor.

What accidents in public could lead to a personal injury claim?

Occupiers must take necessary measures to ensure that all visitors are reasonably safe in using the premises they are responsible for. If they fail to take reasonable steps to minimise or eliminate risks, this could lead to various accidents for which claims can be made, such as:

  • Slips, trips, and falls due to wet or uneven surfaces, poorly maintained pavements, or obstacles left in walkways;
  • Accidents caused by falling objects, such as materials or debris on construction sites or items falling from shelves in supermarkets;
  • Injuries from poorly maintained equipment or unsafe conditions in public parks;
  • Accidents on the street or car parks caused by potholes, broken pavements, or negligent road maintenance;
  • Injuries caused by hot spills or contaminated food in cafes and restaurants;
  • Accidents resulting from poorly maintained equipment, lack of supervision, or poor safety measures in gyms;
  • Dog bites on private property due to the owner’s negligence.

If the property occupier has failed to take reasonable steps to keep you safe from injuries, they may be liable for compensation under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 (OLA 1984) and OLA 1957.

Common injuries that may lead to an occupier’s liability claim

Accidents in public can cause a wide range of injuries, from minor to life-changing or even fatal. Some of the most common injuries include:

  • Lacerations. Sharp objects or broken glass on the premises can cause scratches and deep cuts.
  • Bruises and contusions. Falls, collisions or falling objects can result in bruises and contusions.
  • Burns. Accidents involving hot surfaces, liquids, or electrical malfunctions can lead to burns of varying degrees.
  • Sprains and strains. During a slip or trip, twisting or overextension of joints or muscles can result in sprains and strains.
  • Fractures. Falls or impacts can lead to broken bone injuries ranging from minor to severe.
  • Head injuries. Falls, being struck by objects, or vehicle accidents can cause head injuries, including brain trauma.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries. Serious falls or accidents can lead to back injuries or spinal cord damage, which can have long-term consequences.
  • Neck injuries. Whiplash and neck strains can result from sudden movements during accidents.
  • Electrical shocks. Accidents involving faulty electrical equipment or wiring can cause electrical shocks.
  • Drownings. Accidents in or near bodies of water, such as swimming pools, can lead to drowning or near-drowning incidents.
  • Psychological trauma. Witnessing or experiencing accidents in public can also result in psychological trauma, leading to conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Property occupiers must take reasonable measures to protect you from accidents and injuries. If they have failed in this duty and you were injured as a result, you might be entitled to compensation. The value of your claim will depend on the type and severity of your injuries.

Children and occupiers liability compensation claims

The law acknowledges that children will be less careful and less able to recognise potential risks when compared to adults. As a result, children cannot be expected to act with the same level of caution. Thus, they are at a greater risk of sustaining an injury in all places.

With this in mind, occupiers of premises welcoming children must have a higher level of responsibility. They must take appropriate measures to recognise and address the additional hazards presented to kids.

If your child suffered an injury  due to someone else’s negligence, you can claim occupiers liability compensation on their behalf. To do this, you must apply to the court to be named as their litigation friend. Once the court appoints you, you can start a claim for your child.

Your duties as a litigation friend include the following:

  • Act in the child’s best interests
  • Deal with correspondence and legal documents
  • Make sure the child attends all medical appointments
  • Seek legal advice
  • Pay any fees requested by the court
  • Consider any settlement offers from the other side
  • Make decisions about the case

If you secure compensation for your child, a judge must approve the amount during an Infant Approval Hearing. The funds awarded will be kept in a court bank account or a personal injury trust until the child turns 18. In the case of a low value personal injury claim, the judge may release the compensation directly to the parents.

Trespassers and occupiers liability compensation

As set out in the legislation, the protection of the law extends to trespassers who sustain an injury whilst on the premises of the occupier. Unlawful visitors may also be entitled to compensation whether they recognise that they are trespassing or not. If they suffer an injury because the property was not maintained to an acceptable level of safety, the owner may be liable for their harm.

For a trespasser’s claim to be successful, the claimant must prove that the occupier:

  • Was aware of the risk or danger or could be reasonably expected to have known
  • Should have acknowledged that visitors or trespassers could be in harm
  • Should have taken appropriate steps to remove or minimise the risk of possible injury

A legal adviser could let you know whether you are entitled to compensation if you suffered an injury trespassing.

How much could my compensation claim be worth?

Each claim is different, and the compensation awarded will depend upon the circumstances of the case. Your personal injury lawyer will consider everything you have been through to ensure you are fully compensated. Two types of damages will determine the value of your claim:

General damages refer to compensation for your injuries and how they have affected your life and may include:

  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Loss of amenities
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Loss of consortium or companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

General damages are harder to calculate because they involve subjective factors. They are based on historical cases and the guidelines from the Judicial College. You can refer to our online compensation calculator for some examples of general damages for different types of injuries.

Special damages cover the financial losses you incurred as a result of the accident, such as:

  • Prescriptions and private treatment
  • Counselling and rehabilitation
  • Loss of earnings if you had to take time off work during recovery
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle to support a disability
  • Mobility aids and other medical devices
  • Travel expenses for going to medical appointments
  • Costs of care and assistance

Special damages are calculated based on documentation such as medical bills, payslips, invoices and receipts.

What is the time limit to make a claim if I was injured in a public place?

The usual time limit for starting an occupiers liability compensation claim is three years from the accident date. This time limit is set out by the Limitation Act 1980. If you miss the deadline, your case will typically be statute-barred and no longer valid. As such, we encourage you to seek legal advice as quickly as possible following the injury. That will help your solicitor gather evidence and meet the time restrictions.

If the injuries sustained in the accident are not immediately apparent, the three-year time limit begins from the date of knowledge. This date refers to when you became aware of your injuries and their cause.

Several exceptions may apply to your case, such as:

  • For children, the three-year time limit only begins on their 18th birthday. So, they will have until their 21st birthday to take legal action.
  • There is no time limit to start a claim if the injured person lacks mental capacity. That could be due to a condition such as Down syndrome, a brain injury or Alzheimer’s. In this case, a litigation friend could claim for them at any time.
  • If a loved one died due to an accident on public grounds, you have three years to start a claim from the date of death.

Will a personal injury solicitor offer me a No Win No Fee service?

If a property owner has failed in their duty to protect you and you were injured in an accident, you may be eligible for compensation. If you have a valid occupiers liability claim, you will get legal representation on a no win no fee basis. That means there are no upfront charges, and you will not have to pay anything to your solicitor if your case fails. They only get a success fee, which can be a maximum of 25% of your settlement, if you receive compensation.

As part of your agreement, you will also have After the Event (ATE) insurance covering all your legal costs if your claim is unsuccessful. The ATE will cover all the expenses and disbursements incurred during the claims process, such as:

  • Costs of printing and copying
  • Police and medical reports
  • Expert witness fees
  • Court and counsel fees
  • Paralegal and other staff time
  • Barrister fees if the case goes to court
  • The defendant’s legal costs

To start a claim today or get legal advice, please do not hesitate to call free on 0800 032 3660 to speak to a personal injury lawyer. Or you can use our contact form to request a call back.