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Summer safety – Who is responsible?

01st June 2017

As spring blossoms into summer and the weather improves, more and more of us will be tempted to get out and about visiting National Trust properties, exploring English Heritage sites, hiking, riding or simply ambling through some of the myriad parks and gardens on our doorsteps or further afield.

But before you venture out beyond your front door, take a moment to assess the risks and your own responsibility to avoid danger.

Consider the plight of Ian Taylor, a 69-year-old grandfather who in 2011 visited the Isle of Wight’s Carisbrooke Castle with his family. While the others were poring over the cannons, he strolled away and a short while later was found at the bottom of the castle moat, injured and unconscious. When the case came to court, site owner English Heritage was held 50 per cent accountable for the accident because no warning signs were displayed on the castle’s artillery platform or on the path, and therefore the danger posed by a relatively hidden steep drop into the moat was neither obvious nor clearly pointed out to visitors. When English Heritage contested the finding, claiming Mr Taylor was primarily to blame, the appeal was dismissed.

More recently, a Christopher Edwards and his wife were out for a bicycle ride when they encountered an old stone bridge with a low parapet, crossing a stream. Pushing their bicycles in single file over the narrow ornamental bridge, Mr Edwards sustained serious, life-changing injuries when he and his bicycle toppled over the parapet and fell into the water. Initially, the court found in favour of Mr Edwards, deciding that the local authority, having not fitted railings, should have taken alternative measures to protect visitors such as displaying a warning about the low parapet or suggesting an alternative route. However, the London Borough of Sutton won a subsequent appeal against Mr Edwards’ claim – the court ruled that in this case the danger was obvious and therefore the local authority was obliged neither to erect warning signs nor install guard rails.

So it seems the message is clear: if visitors are exposed to danger arising from hidden hazards, the risks should be drawn to their attention. If the danger is obvious, however, the responsibility lies with visitors to look after themselves. If you need personal injury legal advice, our respected experts are here to help; call the George Ide team on 01243 786668 for a no-obligation initial consultation.

Garry Sleet. Personal injury department.

General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog
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