Cast your mind a couple of months back and you might remember that in September Norfolk policewoman Kelly Jones dropped her claim against a garage owner after she tripped over a kerb during a break-in investigation.

The local authority or the owner of the premises has a legal responsibility to minimise the risk of an accident.

PC Jones had filed a compensation claim against Thetford-based Nuns’ Bridge petrol station garage owner Steve Jones for failing to ensure she was “reasonably safe”.

During an investigation of a suspected break-in on 25 August 2012, PC Jones claimed she tripped on a kerb and fell while walking towards a gap in the fencing in a poorly lit area to access the back of the premises.

Her solicitors said her injuries to her left leg and right wrist left her in hospital and she had to take six weeks’ sick leave from work.

‘Common sense has prevailed’

Commenting on the revoked claim, garage owner Mr Jones said: “It is welcome news. I am glad common sense has prevailed.”

Norfolk’s temporary chief constable Simon Bailey said it was the “right decision”.

He commented: “Policing, by its nature, can put officers and staff in hazardous situations. The constabulary has a responsibility to seek to manage these risks, but nevertheless officers will at times be exposed to some risks in the interests of protecting the public.

“The constabulary has no direct influence over such litigation brought privately by a member of our staff, however, we do believe the right decision has now been made in this case to withdraw this particular claim.”

Was it the right decision?

Mike Cunningham, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, stressed that officers who are “badly assaulted” while on duty should be compensated for lost earnings, but appeared to criticise PC Jones’ initial decision to file a claim.

Speaking to ITV’s Daybreak programme, he said: “It is, to me, wholly inappropriate that police officers claim compensation against victims of crime, people to whom we have responded in order to help them.

“I think it is self-evident that risk is an inherent part of being a police officer and when police officers join they absolutely know that and are aware of it. In fact, it is one of the appeals of the job that police officers put themselves between harm and victims, and that’s what we do.”

However, opinions differ across the board, with the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) saying in a statement: “Contrary to media reports at the time, PC Jones was not seeking a vast compensation payment, rather she was seeking monies that covered the income she had lost as a result of her injury.

“This case raised a very real issue in that police officers find themselves financially disadvantaged when injured at work, with no other option other than to seek financial redress just as any other employee in any other industry would in the same circumstances.”

How do you know when to make a claim?

Accidents in a public place are not uncommon and can be caused by a number of things. These include: dangerous footpaths or pavements, pot holes, staircases in disrepairs, untreated ice and snow and even tree roots.

Slips and trip inside supermarkets, car parks, amusements parks and restaurants also classify as an injury in a public place, as do injuries caused by falling sharp objects.

Anything causing a trip hazard in walking areas or obstructions to pavements that cause injury such as unlit skips and broken fences – and even badly parked vehicles – also fall into this category.

While it is ultimately up to you whether you decide to make a claim, and while common sense should be called upon as in any situation, remember that the local authority or the owner of the premises has a legal responsibility to minimise the risk of an accident occurring.

Don’t feel as though you are tapping into the perceived ‘compensation culture’ by making a claim – you may well have a right to do so.

Making a public liability compensation claim

If you have an accident or suffer a personal injury whilst on public property which was not your fault, there are a number of steps you need to take to make a successful personal injury claim.

First and foremost, you must prove that another person was responsible for your injury – in this case, the owner of the property where your accident happened.

You should report the accident to the owner or staff on the premises at the time, making a note of it in the accident book if possible. Take photographs of the area where the accident occurred and take names and addresses of witnesses where applicable.

Then, take your claim to a reputable solicitor like Lampkin & Co. For us, making a claim for an accident in a public place isn’t just about obtaining maximum compensation. We look at the bigger picture and will make a comprehensive claim that covers everything needed to support your recovery and future.