LAWLINK – Temporary footpath laid by construction workers caused me to fall, what can I do?

gray concrete building under construction
Photo by Tolu Olubode on Unsplash

Q: I have been working in an office in the middle of the city. There has been a lot of construction work recently, and the construction company has changed the route of the walkway to get to the entrance of our office a number of times. This happens without warning. You might come in via one street and leave by another. Last week I was leaving the office late, it was dark and there was no lighting as streetlights were covered by scaffolding. I had two bags, one over each shoulder. I tripped and fell, hit my head pretty badly, and got a nasty cut on my hand. One of the floorboards that was laid down had ‘popped’ out of place. I complained to the foreman the following morning, and he said that it was up to me to keep a look out. Is there anything I can do?

Dear Reader,

It is important to note that the construction company has a duty of care towards you, and should ensure that the building site is safe for any person that might be reasonably expected to travel over it. Clearly the company knew, or should have known, that you and other office users would be using the temporary pathway and should have taken steps to ensure your safety in so far as is possible.

This would include ensuring that any temporary pathway is constructed in a safe manner – in your case by ensuring that there are no protruding edges – and also ensuring that the area is properly lit. This is especially true in a situation where the precise location of the temporary pathway has been regularly changed, and where existing streetlights are obscured.

You should consult with your solicitor and try and narrow down the names and legal identity of the construction company, or perhaps more than one. You should ensure that you visit your GP in a timely manner and keep both them and your solicitor informed as to how your injuries progress. You should retain the shoes you were wearing at the time, ideally without wearing them any further. You should be sure to take a photograph of the two bags and what was contained therein.

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If possible, you should also try and take photographs of the relevant walkway and the area where you tripped and fell. If this has since been changed, you and your solicitor should ensure that the precise location of the accident can be ascertained. Your solicitor also should try and ascertain whether there is any CCTV footage available and ensure that it is preserved should it be needed.

You should also bear in mind that your solicitor should ideally write to the various parties as soon as possible, and you should not unduly delay making contact with them.