31 January, 2017
Jablonski v Preston City Council
Blackpool CC - HHJ Carr
A teenager brought a claim for compensation after he suffered brain damage following a fall off a teen shelter on a play area. The claimant had accessed the top of the shelter by climbing the adjacent fence and stepping over onto the top of the structure.
It was alleged that the defendant ought to have installed a soft surface to brace the fall of anyone who might fall from it and that the proximity of the fence to the teen shelter encouraged visitors to climb on to the roof.
The Judge disagreed and found as fact that the shelter was not intended to be play equipment and that the juxtaposition of it with the fence did not amount to encouragement to climb it. There was also no obligation on the defendant to provide a soft surface on or around the teen shelter.
The Judge was satisfied that the defendant had taken all reasonable care to ensure the reasonable safety of visitors to the play area, in particular he noted that:
It was not reasonably foreseeable that visitors would climb on the roof of the teen shelter and the claim was therefore dismissed.
It is perhaps a cliché but accidents happen and not every accident can be translated into an entitlement to claim compensation. Playground cases involving children can often be difficult claims to defend. Occupiers must ensure that playgrounds are well designed, regularly inspected and where appropriate, risk assessed.