Compensation for Accidents at Home

Siobhan McIvor

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Accident at home claim

Accidents are a leading cause of death, injury, and disability and according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), the home is the most common location for an accident to happen. In the UK there are around 6,000 deaths, a huge number, due to home accidents every year.[1] Furthermore, annually just under 3 million people visit their local Accident and Emergency Department for help following an accident at home.

But, what qualifies as a home accident and what are the most common injuries? Can you claim compensation for an accident at home? This article looks at these questions and the other issues related to home accidents.

What qualifies as an accident at home?

While there are many definitions available for the term ‘accident’, the World Health Organisation defines it as an event, ‘that occurs unwillingly and causes physical and mental damage by a sudden external force’.[2] Accidents in the home may be regarded as those that occur inside the home or in the immediate vicinity of the property, such as the garden, driveway, yard or common area such as a stairwell. According to the ROSPA statistics, children under the age of five years and people over the age of 65 are most likely to suffer an accident at home and more accidents happen in the living room than anywhere else.

It would be hard to find a household in the UK in which an accident has not occurred. Some recent examples reported in the press are the tragic incident of a builder who was killed when he fell at home, banging his head off a concrete floor;  and the case of a model who sustained burns following a garden fire accident.

What type of accidents are common at home?

We feel more relaxed at home, and often fail to recognise the risk inherent in everyday situations. For example, according to the president of the College of Emergency Medicine, ‘you are more likely to die sorting out the Christmas lights by taking them out of the loft, or trying to fix the faulty plug or flex, than an electrician is on a building site’.[3]

He continues, ‘People think the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house, but it is actually the living room’, where children get scalded from hot tea, people trip on rugs and burning injures from fires occur. He also cites DIY as a leading cause of injury, including those from drills and chainsaws, as well as falls from ladders. Unsurprisingly, the rise of home trampoline ownership has led to an increase in related injuries.

Overall, slips, trips, falls and DIY accidents are the most common home-based accidents that cause a wide range of injuries, including head injury and concussion, open wounds, and fractures. In addition, it must be considered that physical harm because of accidental trauma, frequently results in longer term mental harm.

How to manage an injury at home

Mild injuries such as bruises and superficial cuts can be managed easily at home with simple first aid. However, more serious injuries may require a visit to your GP or local Accident and Emergency Department. Even seemingly trivial injuries, such as children getting lego bricks lodged in their nose can give rise to complications such as infection, so it is usually better to err on the side of caution and seek medical advice.

Can I claim compensation for an accident at home?

If you suffered an injury as the result of an accident at home, you may be able to claim personal injury compensation from the landlord, who should have insurance to cover the claim, as follows:

  • A tenant can claim against their landlord, for an accident that occurs within their property, if the landlord knew or ought to have known about the defect that caused the accident and ought to have rectified the same.
  • For communal areas such as stairwells, a landlord is obliged to maintain these to a standard that is reasonably safe, so if the landlord does not do so which failure results in an accident, there may also be grounds to claim compensation.

Regarding accidents caused by faulty equipment or appliances, there may be a claim against the manufacturer in circumstances such as:

  • Electric shock if the product that caused the shock is defective in its design.
  • An injury caused by a product that has not been not labelled correctly with warnings for safe use.
  • An injury caused by a defect due to a problem arising from the manufacturing process.

Early investigation of accidents at home.

With any accident it is important they are investigated fully, as early as possible, when memories are fresh to ensure any crucial evidence to help substantiate your claim can be preserved. Your swift action could help to ensure that you receive the compensation and support that you deserve.

Blog post written by Siobhan McIvor, partner in the Personal Injury team.




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