Insurers acting on behalf of Hull City Council have admitted liability for injuries suffered by two people who tripped in a sunken drain which had been left in an unsafe condition for nine months.
The authority has failed to repair the drain, which is on a pedestrianised area near Chelmsford Close, East Hull, despite first being warned of its danger in November 2013, after the first incident at the site.
Five-year-old Jayden Willby was the first injured last November, tripping in the 5cm deep drain on his way to school, splitting open his head when falling onto the concrete surface.
Jayden’s mother, Candie Gilchrist, 27, reported the problem to council officials the very next day, but no action was taken.
Now, a second person, Nadine Watkinson, 38, who works as a dinner lady at nearby Stockwell Primary School, has suffered a similar fate, with injuries to her left hand leaving her unable to carry out normal day-to-day tasks.
Both are taking legal action against the authority following their injuries and are each being represented by our team of personal injury specialists at Neil Hudgell Solicitors.
Jayden was left with blood pouring down his face, and his injury needed gluing at Hull Royal Infirmary after his fall.
He is still suffering from hearing problems and is awaiting tests to discover if there could be any link to his accident, whilst he has also developed fear of going to the doctors since.
His mother says she did not initially consider taking legal action against the authority, but seeing nothing had been done to repair the area five months later, and given that it is often used by local children on their scooters and bikes, she decided to act.
She said: “It’s ridiculous that nothing has been done. I took a picture of the drain on my phone the day Jayden tripped and fell in it, and I reported it the very next day. I was told it would be investigated but I have not had anyone from the council call me at any stage. I eventually took legal advice as it was clear nothing was being done and I was furious.”
Having taken up the case, Neil Hudgell Solicitors presented the local authority with evidence of the injuries suffered by Jayden, and pictures of the faulty drain, in May of this year.
Insurers acting on behalf of the council accepted responsibility for Jayden’s injuries and agreed to compensate him for in early July.
However, still no action was taken to repair the drain, in which Mrs Watkinson also then tripped and fell on July 31. Falling onto her left hand, it swelled so badly that she had to remove her engagement ring, and she is currently unable to even lift light objects around the home.
Insurers acting on behalf of the council have now also this week admitted liability in that case too, but are still yet to carry out any repairs.
“I was really shaken up when I fell, and all of my weight went straight onto my left hand, which was very painful,” said Mrs Watkinson.
“Fortunately it wasn’t broken, but it was really badly swollen and I cannot bend three of my fingers.
“My daughter had to help me get dressed in the days after my fall, and I still can’t lift even the lightest of things such as kettle, or put my rings back on my fingers.
“It was only after my fall that Jayden’s mum mentioned to me what had happened to him and I was shocked that the council had not repaired it, as the area is used by all residents all the time.
“The drain still isn’t fixed now. When you are walking across the pedestrian area you don’t see it, so it remains a danger, particularly at night. There is no excuse for not having sorted it now. Two people have been injured, how many more will it take?”
Ben Marsden, Trainee Solicitor at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, said: “We realise that Hull City Council has a limited budget and must prioritise certain works, however it seems as though this particular hazard has been overlooked and the real shame here is that two local residents have been injured as a result.
“After firstly admitting liability with regards to Jayden’s fall and subsequent head injuries, it is surprising that no action appears to have been has been taken to prevent further injures, such as those suffered by Mrs Watkinson some nine months later.
“We have now this week been informed they also accept liability for Mrs Watkinson’s injuries.
“Hopefully these claims will prompt the authority into what should be inexpensive repairs, before anyone else is hurt.”