Potholed Path Danger

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24 September, 2021

Lancs live reported this week that 'Margaret Appleton, 75, fell down on a footpath near to Essington Road in Skelmersdale on Saturday morning on her way to Tanhouse. The footpaths were branded by one local as 'treacherous' all over the town and is calling on the council to sort out the problem to stop anyone else from suffering in this way.

"The pavements are so treacherous in Skelmersdale. Something's got to be done because it's a widespread problem."'

Section 41(1) of the Highways Act, 1980 requires "The authority who are for the time being the Highway Authority for a highway maintainable at the public expense are under a duty…to maintain the highway."

Section 58(1) of the Act provides a defence if they can prove it has "taken such care as in all the circumstances is reasonably required to secure that the part of the highway to which the action relates was not dangerous to traffic."

This translates into inspections to check for dangerous defects. A defect has often been considered as being dangerous if it is more than an inch deep or protruding above the surrounding surface by more then an inch. This is not a hard and fast rule however, each case is different. It must be considered dangerous to the ordinary person.

A local authority should have a guide as to how often they inspect the highways in their area. It varies, but in the town centre or on a busy A road, at least once a month, other roads can be every 6 or 12 months. The further away from the town centre the less frequent these inspections are carried out.

Sometimes these inspections are done by car and sometimes on foot. If a defect is located, steps will be taken to repair it. Depending on how bad it is, it may not be repaired straight away but it should be repaired in a reasonable time, fenced, or marked to warn of its existence.

There is an exception to this. If between inspections the defect has been reported and is considered dangerous, there is duty to repair. If it takes too long to repair, the Highway authority could be liable if any one is injured as a result of tripping over it.

If you have suffered an injury because of a defect, you may be able to pursue a claim. Good photographs of the defect showing its depth will be vital in proving it was dangerous. Evidence to prove how long it has been there will help. If it has already been reported, evidence of when and to whom it was reported would be vital.

If you, a friend or family member have suffered an injury as a result of a trip or fall caused by a defect, you may be entitled claim compensation. Here at Forbes Solicitors we offer no win no fee advice.

For more information contact John Bennett in our Personal Injury department via email or phone on 01254 872111. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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