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Public liability insurance and personal injury claims

Public liability insurance covers businesses when customers visit their premises. For example, if someone visits a shop and has a trip or slip (that wasn’t their fault) they could make a claim against the business owner. This could be a personal injury claim which covers their medical expenses and also any resulting loss of earnings. This could be a considerable sum if this individual works – for example – in the City of London earning a substantial income.

I highly recommend that any business makes sure they have public liability insurance to cover them against personal injury or other claims. A few years ago I worked on a case involving an activity farm. The whole site was insured except for a barn which the insurers deemed unsafe. The owners were told if they made the recommended changes the insurers would include the barn on the policy.

Unfortunately, the owners did not make the required changes but still allowed visitors to use the building. Subsequently, my client, an 8 year old boy, jumped down from some hay bales – into some straw. However, the was only a thin layer of straw with concrete below and my client broke his leg.

I contacted the insurers who explained their policy didn’t cover barn. I then contacted the farm owners who instructed solicitors and after quite a fight and several conversations later we came to an agreement.

As my client was under the age of 18 (known as a minor), the law says that approval of the Court is required before the case can be settled. This agreement was taken to court. When a minor is involved a judge will look at case and they will determine whether the award is fair. If it is too little both parties will go away and attempt to re-negotiate the agreement. I discussed the matter with the farm’s solicitors and we agreed compensation which the judge approved.

At this point, and despite the court order, the farm owners said they couldn’t pay. They asked if my clients would wait until the summer when their cash flow would be improved and they would have sufficient funds. I always try to be reasonable in these situations and my client agreed to wait but after several months the owners still hadn’t paid so the court bailiff went and removed their walking and movable assets which in their case was farm machinery and livestock.

At this point the farm paid their bill of several thousand pounds which included the compensation and my costs. I was glad to win the case but really, this whole situation shouldn’t have arisen in the first place. The farm should have made sure their premises were safe and insured right at the beginning. This would have meant they would have been covered against any accident claim under their public liability insurance – but most importantly, it would have meant that my client wasn’t injured in the first place.

If you have had an accident and think you have a claim please contact me. I am a personal injury solicitor and work on a no win-no fee basis and will be available to discuss the details of your claim – so please phone me on 020 7636 9222 or email me at: mike@goodgelaw.com