Occupiers’ liability in a personal injury case
This case highlights the importance of occupiers’ liability as the lady had returned to the premises of her employer to collect her vacuum cleaner.
A housekeeper who had an accident at work secured a £12,000 compensation settlement.
She entered the property and walked into the hallway and immediately fell down a hole in the floor. The floorboards had been removed and the hole was around three foot deep and our client claimed that at no time was she warned about the structural defect.
The area had not been made safe, neither had it been fenced off, and it was found that there had been no attempt to maintain a safe access to the house. A personal injury claim was brought under Section 2 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.
Our client sustained injuries to her right thigh and left shin, with hyper sensitivity going forward, scarring and the accident exacerbated a pre-existing psychological condition contributing to anxiety and low mood. She was unable to work and lost money as a result of the incident.
“It is clear in this case that some attempt at making the area safe should have been made,” said Personal Injury solicitor Micheal Talbot.
“She was invited into an unsafe property and suffered as a result. This case acts as a warning to all homeowners about their liability and their statutory duties,” he added.
Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957
The 1957 Act regulates the duty of care which an occupier of premises owes to its visitors. The occupier owes the same duty of care to all its visitors, except in so far as the duty may be extended, restricted, modified or excluded in some circumstances.
The occupier of the premises should “take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there” (s.2(2)).
Whilst an ‘occupier’ is not defined in the 1957 Act, it is ostensibly someone who has an element of control over the premises, they do not have to actually ‘occupy’ the premises but could be renovating or using the premises as a holiday home/rental. It is worth noting that premises can also mean vessels, vehicles, aircraft and temporary/mobile structures such as scaffolding and ladders.
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