Pavement trips cost council £200k

COMPENSATION payouts by Suffolk County Council for accidents on damaged pavements and potholes over the last four years has reached almost £200,000, it has emerged.

Lizzie Parry

COMPENSATION payouts by Suffolk County Council for accidents on damaged pavements and potholes over the last four years has reached almost £200,000, it has emerged.

Information released after a Freedom of Information request revealed the county council has paid £190,905 to people who have tripped on damaged pavements and potholes in the county from April 1 2004 to March 31 2008.

In total 192 accidents were recorded over the time period with individual payouts ranging from £50 to £47,613.

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Suffolk County Council said despite the number of claims over the last four years there is no clear trend indicating the number of claims is increasing over time.

A spokesman said: “There have been 192 claims since 2004. However there have only been 19 successful claims on which we have paid out in settlement since 2004. This indicates the robust approach that the council takes to the assessment of claims for alleged loss/injury following pavement trips.

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“Those 19 claims comprise the following, 11 in 2004/5, three in 2005/6 and five in 2006/7. This indicates that there is no clear trend that the council's claims experience is getting worse over time.”

The spokesman added: “Clearly it is not possible to ensure that 100% of the council's highways (and pavement) network is maintained in perfect condition for 100% of the time; although we use the available resources as efficiently as possible. The council is responsible for 584 kilometres of principal roads and 6,236 kilometres of non principal roads.

“The council complies with the law by having a programme of highways (and pavement) inspections at regular intervals, which are considered sufficient to ensure that major defects are identified and rectified in a timely manner. This provides a defence for liability in respect of incidents involving slips on pavements (or for defects in roads), and this is effective as shown by the very small number of successful claims that have been made against the council.”

A charity has urged people to be particularly cautious at this time of year as trips and slips are the most common accident.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said: “Trips, slips and falls are the most common kind of accident generally.

“Being aware of an issue, that trips, slips and falls are the most common type of accident, can mean less accidents happen just because people are more aware, especially at this time of year. Frost and ice can add an extra element as well as the darker evenings earlier than about a month ago.

“But it is also important people do take care, it is always the case there are more accidents when people are rushing around not paying attention to where they are going.

“Obviously it is important for people in a position of responsibility that those areas are not posing an unnecessary risk.

“It is important places are well maintained to ensure no unnecessary risk is posed to the public, of course there will always be a risk, it is about minimising that risk.”

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