Increase in claims over falls on buses and trains

Slip and trip claims, usually associated with pavements and flooring, are emerging in public transport, according to a senior personal injury lawyer.

Head of transport litigation at Weightmans, Charlie Jones, said his firm had noticed a steady rise in slip and trip claims involving public transport over the past 18 months.

The pavement slip and trip became famous in the late 1970s and early 1980s as claimants, both legitimate and fraudulent, realised local authorities were quick to pay out and reluctant to go to court on claims.

"All round the country, people were twisting ankles or suffering similar injuries and blaming them on a convenient bit of defective pavement," Jones said.

However, he said local authorities became expert at defending such claims so claimants moved on to public transport providers.

"At the moment, if someone says the bus braked and I fell over and twisted my ankle, it's very difficult to prove it didn't happen," he said.

Jones said the rise could be partly attributed to the growing blame and claim culture prevalent across the UK.

He said there were a number of solutions, including improved risk assessment and management and a willingness to fight claims by public transport providers.

"They've got to make it clear to the public they're not an easy touch, that they won't just be paid off, they'll have a fight on their hands," he said.

"Judges should be aware that not every claim that is brought is necessarily legitimate, even if the claimant is wearing their good suit on the day."