The son of a pensioner, who was hurt when she tripped over a cracked paving stone, has demanded that his mother receive compensation for fall in street injuries.
Seventy-six year old Gwendoline Smith suffered multiple injuries when she tripped over the raised edge of a cracked paving stone shortly after getting off a bus in Southend, where she had travelled from her home in Noak Bridge in Essex.
Gwendoline – who has crutches to help her balance – fell heavily onto her left side and hit her head on the pavement when she tripped. An ambulance was summoned, and Gwendoline was taken to Southend Hospital with a suspected broken knee.
Since her accident, Gwendoline has attended her local Basildon Hospital for treatment to other injuries she sustained in the accident. These include ongoing headaches, lumps on her head, and pains in her left shoulder and leg. Due to injuries to her face, it is also painful for Gwendoline to speak.
In an interview with the local press, Gwendoline´s son – Michael – demanded that the local council pay his mother compensation for fall in street injuries. He said: “The pavement was cracked and raised up – she caught the corner of it and just went over”.
However, claiming compensation for fall in street injuries is not always straightforward. There is often confusion about what constitutes a hazard (a mythical “one-inch-rule” is often quoted in error) and a court would be more concerned about the proximity of a cracked pavement to the bus stop on Bournemouth Park Road.
A court would also take into account that the council does not have an “absolute” duty of care to identify and repair cracked paving stones. Local Authorities are given a “reasonable” amount of time to identify and repair hazards before they are considered liable in personal injury claims. If the crack in the paving stone had only recently appeared, it may be the case that Gwendoline might not be entitled to compensation for fall in street injuries.
A spokesman for the council said: “We regularly inspect all pavements in the borough and repair any dangerous defects as a matter of priority. We have not had any reports of problems in this area, but of course, we take matters like this seriously and a member of our Environmental Care team will visit the site and inspect the area”.