Occupiers’ Liability Claims

Occupiers’ Liability Claims

If you have suffered a slip, trip or fall on property which belongs to someone else, you may be able to bring your case via the area of law which covers occupiers’ liability claims. This is a subsection of the wider law of negligence.

The Law Of Negligence

In order to successfully claim for compensation under the law of negligence, the person who caused your injury needs to be under some sort of duty of care to ensure that you are not harmed. They need to have breached the duty that they hold, and that breach needs to have led to the injury suffered. Until the middle of the 20th century, it was very difficult to sue private landowners for negligence, as it was almost impossible to prove that a general duty of care to look after visitors to their property existed. In 1957, however, Parliament acted to enable many more occupiers’ liability claims to succeed. This was followed up in 1984 with more legislation, which even enables trespassers on land to claim in certain situations.

Lawful Visitors

If you were a lawful visitor to the place in which you had an accident, then a duty of care is automatically created between you and the occupier by the 1957 Occupiers’ Liability Act. The ‘occupier’ does not have to have been present at the time, it is simply a term which refers to whomever has control over the property. The duty created is one which obliges the occupier to take reasonable care for the safety of any visitor, and to ensure that the property is safe. The duty is variable, however, which means that if you have particular expertise and could have been expected to know what you were doing, you may not be able to claim. For example, if you are an electrician conducting works and you received an electric shock, you may not be covered by the duty of care. In the other direction, the duty is more onerous on the occupier when it comes to children, for whom special precautions must be taken.

Claiming As A Trespasser

The 1984 Occupiers Liability Act made it possible for those described as ‘other than visitors’ to claim for negligence also, under certain circumstances. This category covers trespassers, but also those using private rights of way and most incidents which take place in national parks. In order for a duty of care to be held to exist, the occupier must know of a danger on his land, and must have reasonable grounds to believe that someone might be in a position to fall foul of it. If he does not take reasonable measures to deal with the hazard, he can be sued under the law of negligence. It is important to realise that you are not necessarily prevented from making a claim just because there was a warning sign on the property. The court will take all of the circumstances into account when deciding whether an occupiers’ liability claim can succeed.

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