Friday, 5 April 2013

Policewomen and kerbstones. Missing the point

The media last week were full of the story about the policewoman who was setting out to sue a garage owner for damages after she tripped on a kerbstone during a callout. As far as I can tell absolutely every commentator was saying how appalling it was that a member of a ‘risk’ profession like the police should be able to sue a member of the public in this way

I think all those commentators missed the point.The media so often does nowadays, there is no logic applied. There is surely nothing wrong in a policeman, or any other member of the services suing a member of the public if that person has done something really stupid and dangerous. Leaving , for example, a large unmarked and unfenced  trench across a dark area of garden then expecting someone in the emergency services to run across the garden might be construed, quite correctly, as the fault of the owner.

To me therefore the point isn’t about the right of someone to sue. The point is the issue over which this particular police woman is suing.  

The kerb wasn’t of an odd size, nor was it placed in a peculiar or unusual position where nobody would expect it to be. It was an ordinary kerb, exactly as used alongside most of our roads. They are also commonplace in any areas such as garage forecourts, motorway services, car parks and the like where they are deliberately placed to separate vehicle areas and parking bays from pedestrian areas. They help prevent vehicles running onto pedestrian areas and help drainage, preventing water from the large vehicle areas flooding onto paths. 

Almost every garage around here has similar kerb edging around the parking areas, tyre and vacuum bays and along the forecourt edges. They are not even specified by the owner. They are part of the ordinary and commonplace design and architecture specifications, drawn up by the architect and passed by the council. Any ordinary person would expect to find such kerb edging in exactly the place and of exactly the type this police woman found it!

Personally, if I fell over something like that I would be very annoyed with myself for my own stupidity! If she can get away with this then I can only suggest that everyone who has ever tripped on car parks, motorway services or just crossing the street gets to a solicitor immediately. It’ll be ‘win the lottery’ day for most of the population. I wonder if any other commonplace architectural item is also fair game?  Walk into a building, well sue the person who put it in your way.

Some years ago I was walking down the street talking to a friend when I walked straight into a lamp post. It really hurt! I suppose I better go find a good ambulance chaser to sue the council for putting such an unexpected item in such an unusual place without a barrier or warning notice.


  1. I think you're well within your rights to sue for personal injuries from walking into the lamp post. The council should follow the health and safety practise of scaffolders and put sponge wrapped with day-glo stripy tape around every single one. I mean if scaffolders have to do it, why not the council? Health and safety is so important now a days.

  2. Personally, if I fell over something like that I would be very annoyed with myself for my own stupidity!

    Whereas these people see £ signs.