Woman wins Broxtowe pavement fall battle

A Nottingham woman who had to spend 11 days in hospital after tripping over a paving brick has won the right to a compensation payout.

Karen Dalton, who was 49 at the time of the fall in October 2006, suffered a spiral thigh fracture when she tripped while walking through Beeston Square.

Broxtowe Borough Council claimed it was not in the public interest to pay compensation to Mrs Dalton.

On Wednesday, three London Appeal Court judges dismissed the council's claims.

The court heard how Mrs Dalton walked through a pedestrianised square near Broxtowe Town Hall when she fell over the "loose, raised and wobbling" brick, resulting in a leg injury which required her to undergo surgery.

In June 2010, Mr Justice Hamblen found Broxtowe Borough Council fully liable for the accident but the authority was unhappy with the result and challenged the ruling in the Court of Appeal.

The council's barrister, Geoffrey Brown, argued the judge had placed "a near impossible burden of inspection and maintenance on the hard-pressed council and had failed to properly balance the public interest against Mrs Dalton's private interest".

'Dangerous' paving

Speaking at London's Civil Appeal Court, Lord Justice Tomlinson said: "We accept that highway authorities are not guarantors of public safety and that they are rightly sensitive to attempts to impose upon them, and thus upon their hard-pressed council tax payers, a standard of inspection and maintenance which is unrealistic or disproportionate."

However, he added: "We have no doubt that the condition of the [paving] block on 20 October 2006 was dangerous in the sense that, in the ordinary course of human affairs, danger may reasonably have been anticipated from the continued use of that area by the public."

The amount of compensation Mrs Dalton is entitled to must be assessed at another court hearing, unless the council decides to settle out of court.

In a statement, the council said: "Broxtowe Borough Council accepts the court's decision and would like to express its sympathy to Mrs Dalton for any suffering caused."

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