Occupiers liability claims

Posted on

Who are BL Claims Solicitors

BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.

We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset


Insurance

If you own your house then you probably have contents and/or buildings cover.  These policies generally include "third party liability" and this will cover you if a claim is brought against you by somebody injured on your property.  If you are a tenant, then depending on the terms of your Tenancy Agreement, you could be liable to visitors and so you should consider taking out insurance. 

You should also be aware of the level of cover that your policy provides.  In a worse case scenario, if a young person suffers catastrophic injuries which leaves them in a wheelchair or in need of nursing care for the rest of their lives, then £1,000,000 or even £3,000,000 of cover may not be sufficient.  If you are sued for damages and the amount of money that the injured person is awarded is more than the amount that you are covered for in your policy of insurance, then you will remain personally liable to pay any balance.  This balance could be enforced against your assets including your property.

Who Can Bring a Claim?

Visitors are those who have permission to enter your property.  Some people will have "assumed" permission to enter the property such as delivery people and utilities representatives coming to read a meter.  They are treated as visitors.  Asking a visitor to leave the property or restricting them to a particular part of the property would mean they are no longer visitors and they become trespassers until they leave.

Your duty to visitors is "to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor would be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there".  You do not have an absolute duty to prevent any accidents occurring on your property at all. You need to take "reasonable care" to see that the visitor is "reasonably safe", and what is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances of any situation.

Special Visitors – Tradesmen

Visitors who have special expertise such as tradesmen are expected to appreciate and guard against any special risks relevant to their own expertise.  Therefore, if you ask an electrician to do some work on your house and they are injured by their own negligence, you will not be liable to them providing you have not interfered with the way that they are doing their work.

Special Visitors – Children

You do have to have special regard for children.  A summer never goes by without hearing of tragic accidents involving children in garden ponds.  You need to think about the dangers of paddling pools, fish ponds, swimming pools etc.  Adults bringing children onto your property will remain responsible for them, but if children are left in your care then you need to be aware of these potential dangers.


Warnings

These are generally used in commercial properties.  Where it is reasonable for you to give a warning, whether spoken or written, this may be sufficient to prevent you from being liable for a claim. 

Independent Contractors

Where you bring an independent contractor such as a builder onto your property to carry out work, providing you have acted reasonably in choosing that contractor, then you will not be responsible for dangers that they cause.  Therefore, if your builder leaves materials around or uncovered holes on your property then it would be the builder and not you who would be liable to the visitor for any injuries caused as a result.

Trespassers

Understandably your duty towards trespassers is lower than it is to your visitors, but you do have a duty to ensure they are safe on your property.

A trespasser is anybody who does not have permission to enter your property.  This could include a burglar or somebody that you have refused entry to.

Before you can be liable to a trespasser, there are three conditions which must be satisfied –

1. You must know that there is a danger on your property
2. You must know that the trespasser is in the area of the danger or may come into that area
3. It must be reasonable to expect you to offer the trespasser some protection against the risk of injury

Even when all of these conditions are met, the duty that you owe to a trespasser is still only to take reasonable steps to see that the trespasser is not injured.

Warnings, again, these may be sufficient to deny the trespasser a claim.

What To Do?

Because each individual situation has to be looked at on its own unique facts, it is imperative when bringing or defending a claim to discuss the circumstances in detail with an experienced Solicitor.


Julia Prior

Senior solicitor - Personal Injury team


BL Claims Solicitors are here to help

If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk