On 4th January 2020, the claimant was walking along the pavement in a busy shopping area when she tripped on a raised metal grid which was surrounding the base of a tree.
She sustained a fracture of the right radial head, and injuries to her face and mouth, and was left with permanent symptoms.
Liability was denied by Suffolk County Council and proceedings were issued against them.
In a case heard in Great Yarmouth CC (Norwich CC), Suffolk County Council stated that they had regularly inspected the area and therefore maintained that they could argue a “Section 58 Defence” pursuant to Section 58 of the Highways Act 1980.
To prove this was the case, and therefore avoid liability for the accident, Suffolk County Council argued that they had a regular system of inspection in place.
They also alleged that the Client had “contributed” to the accident herself by not looking where she was walking. They claimed that she should have avoided the accident. Express Solicitor’s Part 36 offer, made in November 2022, was rejected by the Defendant.
However, the trial Judge decided that, on balance, the Defendant Council had missed the defect before the accident and after the accident when inspecting the area. Therefore, the Judge stated that the Defendant could not rely upon a “Section 58 Defence”.
The trial Judge also decided that the Client had not been contributory negligent herself and found 100% in the Client’s favour.
Indemnity costs were awarded, and the Claimant beat her part 36 offer by £5.93. The Client was awarded a total of £16,255.93 in damages and interest for her injuries and financial losses. Costs awarded included indemnity and fixed costs of £20,758.79.
Anna comments, “The local authority often file a blanket denial on each case saying they have a Section 58 Defence, pursuant to the Highways Act 1980 and hope that the claimant gives up at this first hurdle.
“This case shows that the evidence has to be carefully scrutinised at this point to assess whether there is actually a defence on the evidence disclosed.
“We use many different ways of doing this and often we find that there is actually no viable defence to the claim”.