There have been plenty of news stories over the last couple of months that have centered around councils not being able to keep up maintenance on their pavements because they are have to pay out a lot in personal injury compensation because people are tripping on uneven footpaths. This seemingly never-ending cycle was addressed by GMTV a few weeks ago but who really is to blame in this long running argument.
The argument that GMTV put forward was that because local councils have to spend time and money defending trip and fall cases on their pavements, that they have no money left to repair the damage, thus more people trip and claim and the pavements get progressively worse and there seems to be no end to this conundrum.
Although it is easy to blame personal injury lawyers it not that simple as Manchester PI Lawyer who's argument on GMTV was that in fact the Councils of England & Wales have had a statutory duty to maintain the highways to a certain standard for two decades. The fact that they are failing to do so is not a new or modern phenomenon, it's a long standing issue.
To illustrate the problem, GMTV also interviewed a pensioner who had tripped on her way to the shop and suffered a fractured pelvis. Her life had altered completely since the accident. People in her position are entitled to make a compensation claim following a slipping accident. It is only right that Councils are brought to account for their failing standards in this crucial area, not least because they are flouting their statutory obligations.
So the lawyers have a legitimate argument saying that they are merely defending people who deserve to be compensated it seems the councils need to do more than just play the blame game. The best idea is for councils to try and prevent any further damage to their pavements and this means possibly punishing those who carelessly damage the public walkways.
As was reported today Cheshire council have a problem with motorists parking on the pavements and damaging the pavements. Maintaining the public walkways needs to be a high priority for councils if they want to reduce personal injury claims. Fines for those who damage public walkways may be one idea, and those fines can be put back into the pavements and in time trip and fall cases should hopefully reduce meaning the councils will have no more complaints about personal injury lawyers.
This idea may not be the best way to solve the problem, but councils really need to stop blaming lawyers who are just doing their job. Although some lawyers may charge the councils extremely high prices, the simple fact is that the councils have a duty of care when it comes to public pavements and if they do not uphold this duty of care then they have little defence when a personal injury case is brought against them.