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Thread: Winter fall claim verdict

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Winter fall claim verdict

    Thurso housing charity was not responsible for gritting pavements

    A THURSO woman has lost an 11,000 damages action against the Highland housing charity she held responsible for her falling on an icy pavement and sustaining a serious ankle injury.
    Patricia Bonham claimed that landlords, Pentland Housing Association Ltd, should have ensured the pavement outside her ground-floor flat, was gritted.
    The accident occurred in the early hours of December 23, 2009, after Ms Bonham thought she heard her son returning to her home at 21 Meadow Court, Meadow Lane, Thurso, from a school prom. Ms Bonham used the handrail when she went outside to check, but, after discovering he wasn’t there, she turned to go back into her house.
    At that point, “her feet went from under her”, on the pavement and she landed on the ground and sustained a triple fracture of her right ankle. There was compacted ice and snow on the pavement and while it was held likely that this had caused her fall, she didn’t know the reason.
    Ms Bonham, the only witness to give evidence in her case, maintained that Pentland Housing had a responsibility to “repair” the pathways under the tenancy agreement. However, Sheriff Andrew Berry argued that this could not be interpreted as constituting snow clearance cleaning and gritting which he suggested was the responsibility of the tenant.
    The housing charity supplied a box of grit for the use of residents there, although there was nothing in the tenancy agreement to indicate they had a responsibility for snow-clearing.
    Sheriff Berry concluded that the housing association was not obliged to carry out gritting and submitted that in any case, snow clearing or gritting did not constitute “repairs.”
    The sheriff said that essential difficulty for Ms Bonham was that she did not know what had happened to cause her fall and continued: “On the evidence, I have not been able to conclude, on the balance of probabilities that she fell, because of the prevailing conditions underfoot. I do not think I can speculate or guess or assume that the snowy and icy conditions were the reasons. I have to base my assessment on the evidence which comes from the pursuer.”
    Sheriff Berry said that if pressed as to where the liability lay for snow clearing he would say it lay with the tenants. If Ms Bonham had fallen because of the conditions underfoot, he would have had to consider what liability, if any, would have fallen upon the Association.
    Finding in favour of Pentland Housing, the sheriff added that Ms Boham’s case “fell at the first hurdle”, on the simple factual basis that “there is no evidence that I could rely on which would allow me to conclude what has caused her to fall”.

    Last edited by Nwicker60; 03-Apr-13 at 07:28.

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