Havant woman who suffered four fractures after fall told council not responsible for missing paving slab

Susan Simms fell in January and fractured her arm in four places. Picture: Malcolm Wells (180912-4959)
Susan Simms fell in January and fractured her arm in four places. Picture: Malcolm Wells (180912-4959)

A WOMAN who suffered terrible injuries when she tripped over a missing paving slab has hit out at a council for not maintaining the path properly.

Susan Simms, 63, fractured her arm in four places and was left with a haematoma – a swelling of clotted blood – when she tripped outside Havant Park in January.

She suffered a haematoma - a swelling of clotted blood - after the accident

She suffered a haematoma - a swelling of clotted blood - after the accident

She says that months on, she has limited use in her right arm and after many hospital appointments is under orthopaedic care at QA Hospital and lives on painkillers.

But Ms Simms’ compensation claim has not been accepted. Havant Borough Council’s insurers, Gallagher Bassett, said footway defects of less than 25mm aren’t a breach of duty and the dip in question was measured at 10mm.

Susan, from Bedhampton, said: ‘I had the dip measured and it was 21mm. I just don’t think the refusal is right given the injuries I’ve been left with and the effect it’s had on my life.

‘I was walking towards the loos and I just went flying.

Susan said she had the dip measured and it was 21mm in depth - but was told by the council's insurers it was only 10mm

Susan said she had the dip measured and it was 21mm in depth - but was told by the council's insurers it was only 10mm

‘I landed on my right arm and it fractured in four places at the top of the humerus. I couldn’t get up because I was in agonising pain.

‘At the hospital I was given a rotator cuff cling because you can’t plaster the area I fractured, and I left still in agonising pain.

‘Days later my arm swelled up and went a funny colour, I thought “oh my god, I’m going to lose my arm”.

‘Doctors discovered I had a haematoma, my arm was black and blue and so were the right side of my ribs where the blood from my injuries had gathered.

She suffered bruising

She suffered bruising

‘I was in and out of hospital for weeks, couldn’t sleep, the pain was constant, it was terrible.’

Susan went on to have physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and said the incident has changed her life. She was told in August she would not receive compensation.

The slab has since been replaced.

Susan added: ‘It’s possible i’ll have to have surgery because my arm has healed itself but I don’t have full movement, I’m right-handed as well.

The area Susan fell next to Havant Park, in the town centre

The area Susan fell next to Havant Park, in the town centre

‘I was only able to start driving again in June, I can just about manage that but it’s a struggle.

‘What if an elderly lady in her 80s tripped? I was lucky because I’m quite fit but a fall like that could have been worse for someone else.

‘People wouldn’t know the dip has to be a certain depth for them to claim – but it shouldn’t be about the depth, it should be about the injuries.

The News asked Havant Borough Council about Ms Simms’ claim and although it has been refused, is technically still active because she has six months to challenge it.

A spokeswoman for the council said: ‘We can confirm that Ms Simms’ claim has been passed to our insurers who are in direct contact with her, and we are therefore not able to comment on any aspect of the claim.’

The council did not comment on why the slab was missing or when it was replaced.

Susan said the incident has seen her back and forth to hospital. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Susan said the incident has seen her back and forth to hospital. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The letter, which denies the council has any responsibility for the incident, states: ‘Our client owes a duty of care to maintain the fabric of their footpaths. However, this responsibility is one of reasonableness and it therefore cannot be expected that a footpath would be perfectly flat at all times.

‘In this case, the area upon which you unfortunately tripped measured 10mm. It is generally accepted by the courts that defects of less than 25mm for a footway and 50mm for a carriageway would not constitute a breach of duty.’