Wetherspoons Not to Blame for Injured Claimant’s Fall

In a recent High Court Case the Defendant, Wetherspoons, was found not liable for the Claimant’s personal injury after she fell from a bannister at a pub owned and run by them.

The injured female had been drinking at the 19th Century pub, which is a listed building, during the course of the evening when she decided to slide down the bannister which ran alongside the stairs leading from the first floor of the premises.  As she did so she slipped off the bannister and fell 4 metres to the tiled floor below.  She suffered catastrophic personal injuries in the form of tetraplegia.

 The injured female alleged that the bannister breached building regulations requirements as it was set only 88 centimetres above the staircase, which is much lower than would be allowed in a modern building.  Furthermore its height encouraged customers to slide along it and no steps had been taken to reduce or avoid that risk, despite evidence that at least three people had been injured in the same way on the same steps before.

 Wetherspoons argued that English Heritage and the Local Planning Authority had been engaged in a dispute in relation to retaining the original feature staircase when they bought the pub, and the matter had been determined in English Heritage’s favour with the bannister to be retained, unaltered.  Contemplation had been given to putting studs on the bannister to discourage sliding, but that too was rejected by the planning authority.  They had considered erecting a sign to warn of the danger but believed that doing so would only put the idea in people’s minds when they may not have considered sliding beforehand.

The High Court determined that the injured Claimant had voluntarily assumed the risk to her own personal safety by choosing to slide down the bannister.  She was not forced in to taking that action and the risks were fully apparent to her.  In deciding to slide regardless of the risk she had become the author of her own misfortune.

 This decision is just one in a long line of recent personal injury cases which have refused to stretch liability principles when an injured person voluntarily engages in risky conduct.  Whilst occupiers of property must try and look after their customer’s safety as far as reasonably practicable, they cannot be liable when the customer chooses to carry out an action they know may result in personal injury.

 If you have been involved in a slip, trip and fall accident in a public place call David Mayor or any of our Personal Injury Solicitors for a free consultation on freephone 0800 975 2463, or contact us by email for free expert legal advice.

David Mayor

About David Mayor

David is Head of the Preston Office's Civil Litigation team and deals with all types of private Civil Court disputes. David’s blogs cover his expertise in all aspects of personal injury law from low value Road Traffic Accidents right through to complex large loss claims. David also writes and has a vast array of experience in Public Liability (trips and slips), Employer's Liability (accidents at work), and Motor Claims (motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents).
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