Wet tiles can be slippery and falls at swimming pools are common and can cause serious injuries. It is possible to claim compensation, but only if it can be shown that the accident was caused by poorly maintained floor tiling and drainage.
I recently acted for a client who was a regular attender at her local swimming baths. She belonged to a swimming club and went along for training sessions several times a week. On the day in question she was walking bare foot between the training pool and the main pool when suddenly, without warning, she slipped over. Such was the speed of her slip she had no time to put her arms out to protect herself as she fell and landed heavily on her face. My young client fractured an upper front tooth exposing the nerve and cutting her upper lip.
The pool’s insurers denied liability throughout and despite going on to settle her claim refused to admit liability even then.
I instructed a swimming pool expert to go along and examine the exact spot where she fell. He in turn instructed an engineer to carry out specialist slip resistant testing (known as a ‘Pendulum’ test) on the floor. The pendulum replicates the bare foot. The area where my client fell was found to have a high risk of slip accident as a result of ingrained dirt in the surface which the experts were of the view reduced the effectiveness of the surface to withstand slips.
Both experts were firmly of the view that the tiled floor had not been properly cleaned and that a film of residue had built up making it very dangerous. The fact that the pool had prior notification of the inspection and had still failed to clean effectively said a lot about their cleaning regime.
My client’s case was based on the failure to take reasonable measures to ensure that the area was reasonably safe for lawful users and alleged that the pool operators were in breach of its duty under Section 2 of the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957 and in particular sub section 2 which states:
The common duty of care is a duty to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there.
I obtained evidence from a dental surgeon on my client’s injuries. The expert was of the view that in time she will require surgical extraction of the tooth and thereafter will need an implant with a crown on top. Because of her young age it is likely that the crown will need to be replaced at least once in her life time.
Settlement proposals were put to the insurers on a without prejudice basis. They refused to accept liability or to negotiate and so I issued a claim form at court. Shortly before proceedings were served the insurers instructed solicitors, who reviewed the file and returned with a counter-offer at almost the full value of the claim. My client was keen to accept to bring the matter to a conclusion and to ensure that she has the funds to pay for her future dental treatment.