Julie Donovan explained me the process fully and clearly. I was kept up to date with the progress of my claim. I was very impressed with her service.
Summer is Almost Here. Beware the Risks.
Fri 25th May 2012 Personal injury
I am writing this article at the end of the finest day of the year so far. Sunshine all day long. Yes, it makes me want to sit out for hours in the garden, light up the barbecue and day dream away. I might even get the tent out and go away for the weekend, perhaps with a little mountain walking thrown in. Or perhaps I might stay at home and do a bit of gardening or DIY.
The thing is summer tends to make us all a
little carefree. Free of the restraints
of work and clock watching. Family
time. But summer is also a time when we
might take risks that we would otherwise not consider and we probably don't
even think about it.
Take, for example, the terribly sad story reported recently by Chris Yandell in the local Daily Echo. The article reports on the death of a 6 year old girl, Isabelle Harris. Isabelle was on a camping trip and is thought to have been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes which escaped from a portable barbecue left outside her tent. This follows the death earlier in the month of a 14 year old girl, Hannah-Thomas Jones, in similar circumstances. As a result of these accidents a safety message has been issued about the dangers of carbon monoxide fumes. Barbecues of any sort, whether gas or charcoal, should only ever be used outdoors.
I am by no means a spoilt sport. I absolutely adore the summer. The thing is though, as a personal injury lawyer I am brought into constant contact with people who have been injured in accidents, whether minor or catastrophic and I feel that it is my responsibility to remind readers of some of the risks out there. I am not risk averse, far from it! This article just serves as a reminder. Let me give you some examples.
Swimming. Not necessarily a uniquely summer pastime, but perhaps not limited to community swimming pools when the sun is shining. How many of us have inflatable pools in our back gardens for our children, or perhaps even our friends? Sadly, we have just been contacted by a young man who has suffered disabling injuries as the result of diving head first into an inflatable pool during end of college celebrations. His life will never be the same again. Similarly, I am sure that most of us have heard of the recent case of Grimes v Hawkins  where a young girl was rendered tetraplegic when she dived into a private swimming pool and hit the pool floor.
Fire. There is a risk of fire from carelessly discarded cigarette butts or bottles. Having grown up in Australia, I am only too well aware of the risk in this regard. Not to mention camp fires that get out of control. Roasting chestnuts or marshmallows may seem like a good idea at the time, but throw in some alcohol and high spirits, and it can all soon turn into a tragic accident.
Then of course, there is the good old fashioned charcoal barbecue. I have seen incredulous things done with lighting fluid when impatience sets in and one is keen to get the barbecue going. Perhaps the clue is in the name? Lighting fluid is flammable!
I have even known of a time when a red hot barbecue grate was placed on the grass so that the charcoal could be stoked. What happened? A bare footed toddler stepped on the grate and ended up in hospital.
What about the sun itself? In this country we see so little sun that we all tend to go a bit mad when it comes out to play. No more so when we go on our 2 week break abroad.
I have yet to mention accidents that may arise from gardening activities. Take hedge trimming for example, or even mowing the lawn. Do you know anyone who has cut through the electric lead? I once tried to cut my foot off with the strimmer! Not that I would recommend it. I have to say watching my husband with his chain saw in full swing did inspire me to remind him of what I do for a living!
Then there are garden fetes, summer traveling fairs, and I have to say I love walking around country estates and gardens. Perhaps the DIY can wait?
Oh, I almost forgot, a friend is having a summer garden party. Don't be tempted to drive home. It is never worth the risk.
I mentioned at the start of my article that I may be tempted to mountain walk. That is to say, I am not versed at doing this on a regular basis and so I would need to consider my position carefully. Again there are risks. It goes without saying that it is common sense not to walk alone. But have I got enough water? Do I know how long it will take me to get there and back and do I know who to call if I find myself in difficulty? Am I wearing the correct gear? I shall never forget the woman I once saw walking up Mount Snowdon in high heels and short skirt! Did she not know that the weather can change in a matter of minutes? She may look great on the dance floor, but hardly on the side of a mountain! The common sense issue is to some extent the point of this article, apart from reminding you all to be careful of course. It is predominately about risk assessment. To a huge extent this is all down to common sense. Weigh the pleasure of the activity against the risk involved. The case of Tomlinson v Congleton Borough Council  sets out the test: "there must be a balance between any risk, the social value of the activity and the cost of preventative measures".
Don’t forget, that if you consent to the risk, then it is highly likely that there will be no one else to blame but yourself. Contrary to popular opinion, we do all have a duty to take care of ourselves.
That said we also all have a duty of care towards each other. To what extent depends on the circumstances. It also depends on who is in control and whether the risk requires a formal risk assessment. Of course a barbecue in your back garden does not require a formal risk assessment, one where you note down the steps that you have taken to assess the risk and limit the possibility of an accident occurring. But it does require common sense. Remember that if someone else is injured in your home or on your grounds, you may well be liable.
It is totally different, however, when a formal event is organised or, for example, you are attending a summer fairground attraction, then formal risk assessments do need to be undertaken. Equipment also needs to be regularly inspected, maintained and be in good working order. Records need to be kept.
The same goes for community swimming pools. Sufficient and suitably qualified lifeguards should be on duty. Risk assessments must be undertaken. Care must be paramount.
Please, please enjoy your summer, but just take care out there. I hope you all survive unscathed if, perhaps, a little sun tanned.
Should, however, you or anyone you know be unfortunate enough to suffer an injury during any summer event, please contact us as we may be able to help. Although the general principles are basic, the law in this area is extremely complex ranging from general negligence to breach of statutory duty and there are various pieces of legislation which might apply.
For further information please contact Deborah Blackmore, a legal executive in our Personal Injury team, on 023 8085 7446 or at email@example.com.
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