06 February, 2018
The Claimant, aged 76 at the date of the accident, alleged that she sustained a personal injury after tripping over a base level barrier after collecting her grandchild from school. The school was partly under construction and base level barriers are generally used to segregate pedestrian walkways.
As the Claimant left the school with her grandchild she walked along a barrier lined pedestrian route. On each of the interlocked base barriers was a red and white top rail with the exception of the last barrier. The Claimant tripped over the last barrier and contended that the absence of the top rail caused her to trip and fall. Without the top rail the base barrier was one metre in length and knee level in height. The barrier was bright red and was intended to be used with or without the top rail.
At trial, the Judge accepted the Claimant's evidence but was not satisfied that the barrier posed a danger. The Judge commented that "every picture tells a story and this case does". The photograph showed a solid interlocked barrier which was large and obvious. The Judge remarked that it should have been seen by the Claimant and that she should have simply stepped around it to have prevented the accident from taking place.
On balance, this was entirely the right outcome and a common sense decision. These types of barriers are common place on construction sites up and down the country to segregate pedestrian walkways from moving traffic. It was clear where the barrier ended and although the Judge was mindful of the Claimant's age and the fact her attention would have been focussed on her grandchild, it did not excuse her own responsibility to look where she was walking.
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