The recent case of PC Kelly Jones provoked a negative reaction from the general public, after the officer decided to sue petrol station owner Steve Jones for knee and wrist injuries she sustained tripping over a kerb responding to a call out at the premises.
Mr Jones declared himself “dismayed” after receiving notification of the move almost seven months after the incident took place, particularly as the officer had been well enough to continue searching.
A report suggesting the police claim £20 million a year from personal injury claims has upset many, particularly as the Police Federation website appears to actively encourage them to pursue compensation for injuries sustained inside and outside work.
Following the strong media backlash, in which even her own chief constable went on record as saying he did not support her actions, PC Jones has declined to pursue her claim, so we will never know how this particular case would have panned out.
However, slips, trips and falls claims are a common occurrence for most personal injury lawyers to deal with, so what should your reaction be if one does come your way?
The basis of a personal injury claim
Of course, for any personal injury claim to succeed, the claimant must prove that their accident was someone else’s fault.
Slips, trips and falls are all legitimate circumstances for pursuing compensation, provided that it can be proved that it was someone else’s responsibility to ensure the area where the incident occurred was safe.
For example, slipping on a freshly-mopped supermarket floor could be grounds for a claim if there was no signage in place warning customers of the slippery surface.
Similarly, if someone trips over loose paving in an area that the local council is responsible for maintaining, they would likely be entitled to claim compensation from them.
In the case of PC Jones, she alleged that the area was not well lit enough for her to see the kerb, and the implication was that this was something she would have expected of Mr Jones.
If someone does come to you for advice on a personal injury claim, the first thing to do is ensure the incident took place within the three-year time limit imposed upon such cases. The second is to ascertain all the facts about the event in question, ensuring all possible angles are covered so you can provide accurate, realistic advice to your client on the likely success of their compensation claim.