The Claimant (a pensioner) sustained injuries as a result of a fall on the public highway outside of premises owned/occupied by the First Defendant.
The premises were located adjacent to the junction of a busy crossroad. As the Claimant turned into the street fronted by the First Defendant’s premises, the narrow kerb outside had been blocked by the Second Defendant, a building contractor undertaking work to the exterior of the premises. To pass the obstruction, pedestrians were forced to step off the kerb, onto the roadway.
The junction is busy and, conscious of traffic approaching from behind, the Claimant hurried along the highway, anxious to re-mount the kerb. As she did so, she tripped and fell, striking her left shoulder and face, sustaining grazing, bruising and a complex fracture of the left proximal humerus, later requiring internal fixation.
The Claimant alleged negligence and breach of a number of statutory duties including those under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007, the Highways Act 1980 and the Code of Practice – Safety at Street Works and Road Works.
Liability was disputed by the First Defendant, the second contractor Defendant having disappeared, providing no contact details.
Proceedings were issued. Both parties obtained reports from medical and engineering experts. The medical experts agreed on the nature and extent of the physical injuries suffered, the shoulder injury requiring open reduction and internal fixation. The Claimant eventually achieved a reasonable but incomplete recovery with residual pain and stiffness to the shoulder and compromised ability to undertake domestic tasks as before.
There was substantial agreement between the two engineering experts that:
- The work had been carried out without any consideration for members of the public having to walk into the carriageway.
- The Code of Practice is clear as to the requirements for safety of pedestrians.
- A risk assessment ought to have been carried out, which should have shown that there was a hazard to pedestrians with a real risk of injury, requiring control measures.
- Advice should have been sought from the local Highways Authority and Police as to the most appropriate measures to take.
- The First Defendant, as owner/occupier of the premises worked on, had a duty to ensure use of a competent contractor and should, as a minimum, have made appropriate enquiries with the Second Defendant (the contractor) as to how the proposed works were to be carried out, directing them to the Local Authority.
- Further, the First Defendant ought to have made the following additional enquiries of the contractor:
- Obtained proof of relevant insurers;
- Obtained evidence of other works carried out;
- Ascertained whether the contractor was an accredited member of an approved association;
- Ensured that the contractor understood the need to make special provision for safety at such a busy location.
The Claimant recovered damages for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity suffered, with additional damages for the past and future care/assistance with domestic tasks required as a consequence of the injuries.