Teenager who fell from roof of teen shelter loses claim against Council

Article

21 December, 2016

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:

  • the fence and shelter was designed to discourage climbing on the roof of the shelter,
  • there was no evidence that any employee of the defendant had ever seen anyone on the roof of the teen shelter,
  • there was a warning sign on the fence which told visitors not to climb the fence and there was no obligation for the defendant to erect any additional warning signs,
  • the system of inspection and risk assessments undertaken were adequate, occupiers must only assess risks which are reasonably foreseeable.

It was not reasonably foreseeable that visitors would climb on the roof of the teen shelter and the claim was therefore dismissed.

Forbes comment

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. For further advice on complex or large loss claims please contact Paul Geldard by email or call 01254 662831.

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