Thompsons Solicitors has helped hundreds of thousands of people across the UK to successfully secure compensation after suffering a personal injury, including public liability claims. Here, Thompsons Solicitors’ specialist personal injury lawyers explain what a public liability claim is and how you can start one today. 

1. What is public liability?

Public liability is the duty of care a person or company owning or being responsible for a public area has to ensure it is safe for public use. Businesses should take out a public liability insurance policy so they can compensate any members of the public injured on their premises due to their fault.

2. What is a public liability claim? 

A public liability claim – also defined as a type of personal injury claim - is a process where, if you have had an accident or have suffered a personal injury on public property, you make a claim on the public liability policy of the owner. 

3. What types of accidents or injuries can I make a public liability claim for? 

There are many types of accidents or injuries that could lead to a public liability claim. These include:

  • Slips, trips and falls caused by potholes, dangerous footpaths and pavements and untreated surfaces in winter weather whether that is  inside supermarkets, shopping centres, schools or car parks, defective stairwells or perhaps caused on the street by protruding tree   roots or uneven pavements
  • Injury from objects, for example, falling from a height or caused by sharp objects that should have been covered and made safe
  • Obstructions on the road, pedestrian footpaths or trip hazards.
Thompsons Solicitors legal guide to making a public liability claim

This list is not exhaustive and we encourage you to contact Thompsons Solicitors’ personal injury lawyers today if you believe you might have a public liability claim for advice on whether you have a case for compensation: 0800 0 224 224 

4. Can I make a public liability claim?

If you have had an accident or have suffered a personal injury while on public property, then you may be entitled to make a public liability claim.

If your accident occurred on public property during the course of your employment, then you may have a claim against your employer.

There may also be many other circumstances where you could be injured on public property. Our personal injury solicitors can provide advice and help determine whether you’re eligible to make a public liability claim. All you need to do is give us a ring on 0800 0 224 224 or complete our quick and free online claim form.

5. The owner of the place where I was injured doesn’t have public liability insurance – can I still make a personal injury claim?

Yes. Public liability insurance isn’t compulsory under UK law, so there may be a chance that the owner or the party responsible for the area where you suffered your injury or accident does not have public liability insurance. If this is the case, you can still make a public liability claim, but rather than the compensation being paid out by the insurer, any damages would be recovered directly from the party at fault. This can mean recovery of your damages can be more difficult if the owner goes 'bust' or doesn't have the money but we can talk you through that and work out the risks with you.  

6. I’ve had an accident in a public place – what do I need to do to make a public liability claim?

To make a successful public liability compensation claim, you will need to prove that another party was responsible for your injury (in this case, the owner of the property/area where your accident happened).

To help strengthen your personal injury claim, you should:

  • Report the accident to the staff immediately responsible or the owner at the time
  • Make a note of your accident in the accident book if possible
  • Take names and addresses of witnesses to the accident
  • Take photographs of the area where the accident happened
  • In cases involving badly maintained pavements, it would be advisable to put a ruler or a coin (such as a 10p or 50p piece) standing upright beside or in the hole/lump before you take the photograph to give an idea of depth / height.

If you are intending to claim expenses as part of your public liability compensation claim, such as prescription costs and travelling expenses for treatment, remember to keep receipts as evidence.

If you haven’t checked all of the above off your list, don’t worry – we can still investigate the public liability claim and who may be at fault for causing your injury.  Just call our dedicated team of expert personal injury lawyers, and they will be able to provide advice on what steps you need to take next to make a public liability claim.

7. How can I start a public liability compensation claim? 

As with all personal injury claims there are strict time limits in place. To make a public liability personal injury claim you need to have started the legal process within three years of the injury taking place. If you are under 18 years old and you have suffered a personal injury, the three year time limit begins from the date of your 18th birthday.

There are only very limited exceptions to these time limits, so make sure you get in touch with Thompsons Solicitors as soon as possible, so that we can begin investigating whether you can make a public liability compensation claim.  

8. How do I pay for my public liability claim?

There are a number of options available for people who wish to make a public liability compensation claim. Trade union members will not have to pay as unions provide free advice and representation to their members for personal injury cases. For non-union members, the most common way to pay for a public liability claim is via a ‘no win, no fee’ agreement, otherwise known as a conditional fee agreement.  

Thompsons Solicitors will only begin a personal injury compensation claim if we believe there is a good chance of success. By starting a no win, no fee personal injury claim, we guarantee that, should your claim be unsuccessful, you will not have to spend a penny on any legal costs.

Learn more about how to fund a personal injury claim by visiting our Fees and Payment page.

9. Why should I choose Thompsons Solicitors to make a public liability compensation claim?

Thompsons Solicitors is the UK’s most experienced personal injury law firm. Since our foundation in 1921, our UK-wide network of specialist personal injury lawyers have won many of the claims that have set the law in the U.K.  We fight hard to secure hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation for people who have suffered a personal injury that was someone else’s fault every year. As a matter of principle we refuse to act for insurance companies - we only ever act for injured people. The claims we run for our clients include: 

  • Personal injury: Accident abroad claims; accidents in public places claims; slips, trips and falls claims and child accident claims

  • Road traffic accidents: Bike accident claims; pedestrian accident claims; lorry and HGV claims; bus and coach accident claims; motorbike accident claims and cycling accident claims

  • Serious injury: Spinal cord injury claims, brain injury claims; amputation accident claims; serious burn injury claims; serious medical injury claims and fatal accident claims

  • Medical negligence: Cerebral palsy and other birth injury claims; brain and head injury claims; medical accident amputation claims; spinal injury claims; fatality claims; claims following a botched operation; misdiagnosis claims; scaphoid fracture claims; prescription error claims and product liability claims

  • Asbestos diseases: Mesothelioma claims, asbestosis claims, pleural thickening claims and asbestos-related lung cancer claims

  • Industrial diseases: Respiratory and lung disease claims; skin disease claims; vibration injury claims and occupational cancer claims

  • Accidents at work: Slips, trips and falls at work claims; workplace assault claims; strain injury claims; manual handling injury claims; needlestick injury claims; crush injury claims

  • Military injury claims: in training and in action.


Unlike high street law firms, that pick and choose who they want to represent, Thompsons Solicitors will only act for injured working people. We refuse to work for employers or insurance firms, and always will. This is Our Pledge to you.

Telephone us on 0800 0 224 224– our specialist personal injury lawyers are on hand to talk you through the process of making a claim, making it as easy and stress-free as possible. Alternatively, you can fill our free online Start a Claim form, which only takes a few minutes of your time.