Successful defence for local authority

  • The claimant alleged that the cause of the tripping incident was due to faulty street lighting
  • The judge dismissed the claim stating that the claimant took inadequate care of himself
  • This case is another victory for Zurich Municipal's Public Sector customer base

Background

The claimant tripped over a kerb outside of his home. He alleged that the accident was caused as the result of the street lighting being out. It was argued that the claimant and other residents had reported the street lighting issue prior to the accident occurring.

The Councils position was that no prior complaints had been received, and as soon as they were made aware, they were acted upon immediately.

Legal arguments

The claimant’s solicitors argued that there has been a breach of statutory duty in failing to repair the lighting. The Defendant’s witness was criticised under cross examination by the claimant’s representative for not providing all of the documents relevant to the claim, namely, supplementary notes alongside the reports on the various systems used by the Council, and for his lack of involvement in the events of the case. However, the Judge was satisfied that enough documents were produced by the Council, and was clear to point out that it was the norm, and quite acceptable, in cases such as this for a senior staff member to review the departments records, explain them to the Court and make comments.

Decision

It was established as fact that the street lights were out on the date in question, and that the Claimant was not looking where he placed his feet. The Judge concluded that the fact that the lights were off, in terms of causation was irrelevant. “Sadly, the cause of the accident was the Claimant’s failure to take adequate care of himself in all the circumstances. I thereby dismiss this claim”.

Commentary

This is yet another heartening victory for our Public Sector customer base which demonstrates the depth of Zurich’s technical expertise. Our claims handler denied liability at the pre-litigation stage of the claim, and that decision was eventually vindicated at Court.

This claim was handled by Sarah Mellor in our Leeds Casualty Team.