Would you have been able to successfully defend these claims?
An elderly gentleman came to the office badly bruised and shaken. He reported that he had tripped up on the walkway external to his block of flats. He suffered injuries to his face, broken glasses and ripped trousers.
Following an inspection survey it was identified that the long area of paviour edging bricks, alongside the main walkway and across the path that led into the block of flats, had become raised by one brick height i.e. approx. 8cm/3”. This hazard had been in existence for a long period of time and not been identified at any of the inspections. Compensation payment was made.
An employee received a call just prior to leaving the office advising that a garage used by the local council for storage was open and that items within the garage, including papers were exposed. Attempts to contact the manager to advise of the situation were unsuccessful however an email was sent which the manager would receive the following morning. The staff member decided as the garage location was on her way to work, that she would make a visit to the site the next day.
The drainage from the garage rooves were damaged and the rainwater had not discharged into the gullys/drain but on to the garage/car park surface. Unfortunately, it was winter and very cold and ice had formed on the external garage parking area and stepping out of her car she slipped and broke her ankle badly.
An insurance claim resulted with a large financial settlement. Lack of inspection and maintenance of the garages and garage area and no documentation to use to defend claim.
A tenant had reversed their car in the car park into a parking space. When leaving the car, they went to the rear of the vehicle to remove items from the boot. Their foot slipped on the severely damaged walkway behind resulting in a broken foot.
The claim contained details of the incident together with photographs showing the badly maintained area in the car park where the incident occurred.
Very few inspection documents were available and those that were, showed no record that the problem had been identified and reported. Due to the obvious failing in their duty of care, the organisation made settlement payment prior to going to Court.
Can you see the risk/s with each of the pictures below?
If a personal injury insurance claim was received as a result of one of the above true examples, would your organisation be in the position to successfully defend itself?
On arrival at work, the caretaker of a tower block of flats saw a spillage of what looked like think milkshake. The caretaker went to the cupboard to get a 'slip warning' bollard which he intended to put over the spillage whilst he collected the mop etc in order to clear up the spillage.
On arrival back at the area, a man advised that he had just slipped on the wet floor and hurt his back. He then said he could not stop as he was late for work and proceeded to walk out of the building towards the car park.
The man did not leave any information regards his name, flat number etc. The caretaker followed him to get this information but unfortunately he had already driven away. The caretaker came back to the property entrance area and dealt with the spillage.
Approx. two months later a claim was received regarding this incident. No record of the incident or photographs were taken of the spillage at the time (the caretaker advised that he noticed on his return with the sign that the spillage had not changed shape from when he had originally seen it.) CCTV footage was only kept for 30 days and therefore no record of the incident was available.
This claim was in respect of a trip by a tenant over a loose cable on the frontage of the property and in the direct line to the rubbish bins.
On investigation the cable was not live, as feared, but an old TV cable left when a tenant changed their TV reception and the cable was just cut and not removed.
It was not a requirement for inspections to be carried out on tenanted property areas ie front and rear gardens. It was the responsibility of the tenant to maintain and look after their own safety. The cable was removed by the organisation to ensure safety of the tenant but the claim was not upheld.
A claim was received for a teenager who had been injured (broken leg). The claim form stated that she was playing with her friends and the ball went on to the garage roof. Whilst she was getting the ball from garage roof, the roof gave way and she fell into the empty garage below.
It must be noted that the location of this row of garages had been void for some period of time as they were to be sold off to developers. Fences 6ft+ had been placed around the garages with notices warning of the danger and to stay out.
Residents reported that the youngsters would climb over and play football in the garage area and also climb on to the garage rooves and jump about. This was denied by the claimant/mother but on speaking to the local residents, one of them had taken photographs of the children, the chairs which had been stacked up against the fence to enable the youngsters to climb over the fence, children climbing the chairs, as well as photographs showing children jumping on the roof, including the claimant, prior to her injury.
No photos were taken by the organisation staff of the garage floor following the inspection and incident report. It was reported that there was no roof material in the garage on the floor which if she had fallen through there would have been. It became clear that the claimant had been jumping, with her friends on the garage roof and jumped through an existing hole in the roof. The claim was dismissed.
A woman’s young granddaughter ‘twirled’ around the front porch canopy pole which gave way and caused injury. An inspection was undertaken of the same work carried out on other porch canopies at the surrounding houses. A number of the front porch canopies had the same problem. The pole support had been unscrewed allowing repair to be carried out on the canopy. However, the supporting pole had not been screwed back into its position on the underside of the canopy and therefore was still able to more.
Discussions were held with the contractors responsible for the canopy repair works some years previously and a copy of the order/warranty for the canopy works was located.
The local authority was not responsible for this claim however, this demonstrates how contractors are just as liable for failure of duty of care as housing associations, authorities and property management companies. The claim also illustrates the importance of safely keeping documentation for the required length of time including contractor information, work contracts, guarantees, warranties etc.
If you answered 'no' as to whether you would be able to successfully defend your organisation if you received any of the above, please contact Garnet Stone for your complimentary consultation.