£5,779.90 For failure to maintain the carrigeway

Miss Sage instructed Express Solicitors to act for her in a personal injury claim arising from an accident that happened on 13th January 2016. She had been on her way to work, and had just gotten off the bus. As she stepped off the curb to cross the road, her left foot became stuck in a pothole in the carriageway, and she fell to the ground, landing heavily on her left side.

She got up from the floor and made her way to work, but she had to leave early to go to a walk-in centre, where she was given painkillers and told to rest. She attended her GP surgery where she was examined by her doctor, and she was told that she had suffered soft tissue damage to her left arm and leg, and her back. She was prescribed stronger painkillers and advised to only undertake light duties at work.

We put Miss Sage’s case to the Defendant, Birmingham City Council, arguing that they had failed to maintain and repair the road in accordance with their statutory duty under the Highways Act 1980. The council denied liability for our client’s accident on the basis that they operated six-monthly walked inspections of the road, and their most recent inspection before Miss Sage’s accident, which was carried out on 11th January 2016, did not identify any defects or hazards in the carriageway. The pothole that caused our client’s accident had been identified by the council and made temporarily safe on 21st January 2016, before a permanent repair was carried out on 16th February 2016.

Having reviewed the Defendant’s position, we did not consider that in the circumstances they had satisfied their duty. If there had indeed been no identifiable hazards or defects at the time of the walked inspection, then it would follow that the pothole that caused Miss Sage’s accident had appeared within the space of two days. We considered that, despite the Defendant denying liability for her accident, Miss Sage had a strong case on the facts, and that it was worth pursuing further.

We arranged for Miss Sage to meet with a medical expert.  He identified that she had suffered soft tissue injuries to her back, between her shoulder blades, as well as her left shoulder and wrist. He considered that on a scale of mild to severe, her injuries were moderate, and noted that they were still causing Miss Sage acute pain in May 2016, some four months after her accident. He considered that some further sessions of physiotherapy were appropriate to help her achieve a full recovery.

As the Council had denied liability for Miss Sage’s accident, we had no option to issue Court proceedings. Upon sending a copy to the Council of the documents that had been lodged with the Court, an offer was made to our client in the sum of £5,779.90 in full and final settlement of her claim. We discussed this offer with Miss Sage, and she provided her formal instructions to accept it, thereby avoiding the need to ever attend Court and bringing her claim to a successful conclusion just before the birth of her first child.


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