This case was complicated in that it involved 3 defendants. My client suffered serious leg fractures when she tripped on a pothole just outside of the gym that she had just attended. The pothole had formed next to a manhole cover so that the edge of the cover presented a tripping hazard.
Frustratingly, nobody was willing to take responsibility for the maintenance of the area. The Council said that the land was beside (and not on) the public highway. The Land Registry records were not clear enough to show whether the land fell within the Gym’s legal boundary. Furthermore, the utility company advised that the manhole was no longer part of its water system and, as such, was privately owned. Because of this setup, the area of land had simply not been maintained leading to the area next to this manhole deteriorating and becoming a tripping hazard.
After considerable efforts to get the respective defendants to at least accept that the Court would find at least one of them at fault, court proceedings had to be commenced. None of the insurers for the defendants were willing to accept any liability.
Medical evidence was obtained on the Claimant’s injuries. Court proceedings were commenced. The Claimant’s medical evidence was then served together with a schedule of financial losses on all of the defendants. At this point, solicitors were then instructed by the defendants’ insurers. And, as is often the case, it was only at that point that the legal technicalities of the case were given proper consideration.
The gym then accepted that the area of land/manhole cover formed part of the only route of access to its building with no other properties benefitting from that access route. The gym therefore had control of the area. Furthermore, the gym admitted resurfacing the car park area leading immediately up to the manhole cover. Therefore, the gym accepted that the court would be likely to deem it as having control of and responsibility for this area of land. The fact that the gym had previously failed to realise this responsibility only went to prove that it had failed to take any reasonable measures to maintain that area of land.
Negotiations then took place and, after achieving an increase of 70% on the gym’s original offer, a final settlement was agreed.