Non-Safety Glass Injury Claims Against Landlords
Recent studies by independent research organisation Statista have found that, in England, around 4.5 million households are privately rented, with another 4 million households living in Council or Housing Association property. Whoever owns your property, they are your Landlord, with a duty to provide for you a safe and habitable home, in exchange for which you pay an agreed rent each month.
If a Landlord fails to provide that safe home and you are injured as a result, you are entitled to make a claim for personal injury compensation. One area of significant risk, that our local personal injury solicitors see again and again, is the use of non-safety glass in rented property, which can cause significant injuries, particularly to young children when they are playing in the house.
Do you accept injuries caused by glass, in rented accommodation, on a No Win No Fee Basis?
If you believe you have been injured as a result of an unsafe glass door, window or other glazing in your rented home, you will likely be able to make a personal injury claim against your landlord, and MG Legal’s expert solicitors that specialise in No Win No Fee Personal Injury claims against landlords are here to help you. If we accept your personal injury claim, every claim we accept is handled on a No Win, No Fee basis so you don’t have the added stress of paying legal fees up front. And of course, if your claim is not successful, you have no legal fees to pay, so are, financially, no worse off than you were.
What obligations does a landlord have to look after a tenant?
Historically, Landlords have had a slightly easier time with glass in their properties. The Building Regulations, in their various forms, do not require any outdated glazing to be replaced, simply that it is brought up to compliance the next time that it is repaired, or building work is carried out in the same area of the property. For example, a front door with a single glazed, non-safety glass panel would only need to be upgraded to safety glass when the panel is broken and replaced, or if the door itself is replaced.
Many historic claims for personal injury against Landlords arising from incidents involving non-safety glass have been successfully defended, using a combination of the Building Regulations and the case of Alker v Collingwood 2007, which was also based on the Defective Premises Act 1972. The Court of Appeal found that a Landlord did not have a duty to make a residential property “absolutely safe”.
How have a landlords’ obligations to keep tenants safe from personal injury, changed?
In the case of Rimmer v Liverpool City Council the Court of Appeal determined that a landlord will be liable where they have done work so as to create the defect that gives rise to a foreseeable risk of injury. In the case of Rimmer, the tenant had complained to his council landlord about a thin plate glass door in his home, which had been constructed by the defendant council. The council had argued that it was not required to rectify an inherent defect in the design of the premises, since such defect did not amount to a state of disrepair. The inevitable happened, and in due course the tenant tripped, fell, and put his hand through the plate glass door. He sued and succeeded.
You can see how the case law has developed and more good news has arrived in the form of the Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act 2018 which puts a much greater emphasis on the Landlord to look after their tenant, and keep them free from personal injury; well, as free as reasonably possible. The Act does not change any particular Law or Regulation. However, what it does do, is make it easier for injured Tenants to take action against their Landlord.
Whilst this Act does not specifically state that all non-safety glass must be replaced, it does imply a stricter standard by virtue of better arming the Tenant and as a result, many Landlord’s advisory groups are recommending that, amongst other areas of improvement, non-safety glass is replaced with safety glass as soon as possible.
Whilst there has been no case progressed sufficiently far up the Court hierarchy to overrule the case of Alker v Collingwood, it does provide a new basis for any claim and so, makes it more difficult for Landlords to use the case of Alker in their Defence, as the 2019 Homes Act can be said to, in some instances, supersede the 1972 Defective Premises Act.
Where should a Landlord take extra care with glass?
In any building, there are areas designated as “Critical Locations” where it is deemed to be most likely an incident where contact could be made with glass panels. These are taken from the Building Regulations and have been defined as follows:
A Critical Location is one which is wholly or partially within 1500mm from the floor level glazing adjacent to doors which is wholly or partially within 300mm of the edge of a door. Which is also wholly or partially within 1500mm from floor level Low-level glazing not covered by (1) or (2). Glazing which is wholly or partially within 800mm from floor level.
Glass in these locations is defined as having to be designed to reduce risk by being safety glass which breaks safely ie, into small pieces rather than jagged shards, robust, permanently protected or in a small panel.
Is the duty absolute, or do Landlords have any Defence to not having Safety Glass?
It remains a potential escape for Landlords under the specific wording of the Building Regulations that if they have not had to carry out building work, or repair work, in any area that non-safety glass is still strictly speaking permissible. However, the Homes Act has very much helped tenants with shifting the emphasis onto Landlords to take positive steps, rather than dealing reactively – after all, until a pane of glass is broken, a Landlord id unlikely to replace it. There would still be a requirement to assess the location of the glass and the circumstances that occurred when it was broken.
However, with the above said, it is notable that every Landlord’s advice website, including the Residential Landlord’s Association is telling Landlords to replace any non-Safety Glass with Safety Glass. There is, clearly, a shift in the balance of power in this area of Law and it now very much clear that Tenants are enjoying the strongest legal protection ever.
What kind of circumstances could affect a decision about whether Safety Glass was needed?
As well as the various pieces of Legislation above, there is also a Common Law Duty on Landlords to ensure everything is safe. Common Law, briefly, is a legal concept brought about by the process of common sense, historic actions and a general application of existing decisions of the Court. In short, if something is not specifically written as a Law, but it ought to be clear to all concerned that something would be unlawful or negligent it can be said to be Common Law.
Using Common Law, if there is a dangerous pane of glass and it was combined with another potential hazard, such as a tiled floor which could foreseeably be wet and slippery, this could combine to create a hazard that exceeds, in the Court’s mind, a Common Law duty. The good news for Tenants is that with the Homes Act, there is less emphasis on Common Law as the Act already places a greater burden on the Landlord. MG Legal’s local Personal Injury Solicitors know the value of building a strong case. Leaving no stone unturned in our investigations, and having multiple ways in which to pressure the Landlord to concede that they knew their property was sub-standard.
Is an injury sustained due to broken glass in a Residential Tenancy always the fault of the Landlord?
The short answer to this question is “no”, it isn’t automatically the fault of the Landlord. MG Legal’s personal injury solicitors specialising in claims against landlords, know that each claim is different and that they must individually be assessed for their merits. Every Tenant has an obligation to adhere to both their Tenancy Agreement and Common Law in using the property in a safe manner. However, with the way the Homes Act has changed matters, if you are doing everything right in the property it is likely you have a strong case. Even if you believe you might be partially at fault, it is still worth looking to make a claim for personal injury, because if the Landlord was negligent in their actions of not replacing or protecting non-Safety Glass, you may well still be entitled to an award, with a percentage deduction for “contributory negligence”. Given many injuries from broken glass are serious, and include severed arteries, deep scarring, loss of fingers, or limbs, and facial scarring, even after a deduction for contributory negligence, your personal injury award can still be significant.
What sort of injuries can arise from non-Safety Glass Landlord Personal Injury?
Here at MG Legal, we have the experience to know that every claim is different, which is why we treat our clients as individuals. No two injuries are the same, although when there is broken, non-Safety Glass involved, the most common injuries are:
Cuts and lacerations, which can range from small puncture wounds to much longer lacerations, often when an individual has put a hand, foot or limb through the window
Muscular injuries, where a deeper laceration has gone beyond the skin and caused a significant injury to the muscle underneath
Tendon and ligament damage, this is common in injuries sustained around joints or where there is less flesh to protect the tendons.
Nerve damage, deep lacerations can also sever nerves. Often these nerves will recover naturally, or following surgery, but it is not uncommon in more serious injuries for the nerve damage to be at least partially permanent.
Scarring, which can depend on the severity of the injuries but is also dependent on factors during the healing process. Because of the nature of glass injuries in residential properties, these scars are often in prominent areas of the body.
Loss of sensation or hypersensitivity, this often comes with scarring and is a variation on the nerve damage. This type of injury occurs on the surface of the skin and can be particularly troublesome when it occurs on the hands or arms of individuals who work outdoors or in other cold environments.
Restriction of movement, which stems from scarring but certain types of scar tissue can tighten the skin in certain areas and restrict movement, making previously simple tasks a lot more difficult.
Psychological injuries, not a type of injury that is commonly associated with this type of case, but the most serious injuries can be traumatic and can have a long-lasting effect. It is also the case that, particularly in people who are conscious of their appearance, scarring can have a detrimental effect on self-confidence and leave them feeling insecure and self-conscious.
Whatever the nature and severity of your injury, MG Legal has a range of experts including Trauma Consultants, Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and many other sub-specialities who can accurately assess your injuries.
Compensation for any injuries is known as General Damages.
What kind of losses do people sustain from non-Safety Glass Landlord Personal Injury claims?
Aside from the above injuries, many people suffer other ‘out of pocket’ expenses, also known as Special Damages. Some Special Damages can be found in every type of claim, however, with any injuries from non-Safety Glass, there are some more specialised losses. Below is a list of common Special Damages found in non-Safety Glass Landlord Personal Injury Claims;
Lost earnings, whether short term whilst you receive medical treatment, or longer term if your injuries prevent you going to work until you recover- Our local personal injury solicitors will make sure that you receive an interim payment to keep your life in order, with the rest of your lost earnings received by you, as soon as possible.
Travel costs, whether for medical treatment or if you expend extra monies if your injuries prevent you using your usual mode of transport; keep your receipts, and personal injury solicitors near you will make sure that any money you have paid out in travel expenses, are returned to you, when your personal injury claim is successful.
Medication costs, individually these often seem insignificant, but they can mount up over a few months, and even the smallest of prescription charges can start to add up. MG Legal’s personal injury solicitors will make sure your medication costs are reimbursed when your claim for personal injury is successful.
Care costs, these can cover both caring for you if your injuries render you unable, but also for people to perform other tasks you might ordinarily have done, such as cleaning, shopping or gardening. Every little counts, and if you pay out money for things you could do yourself, prior to being injured, then it is only fair that when your personal injury claim is successful, that the monies are reimbursed to you. Make sure that you keep receipts, and a log of how much you paid people for doing your cleaning, or shopping, and so forth.
Treatment costs, both for the initial injuries but also rehabilitation. Often, additional private treatment, such as hand therapy, can improve your recovery.
Camouflage costs, as some our clients have pronounced scars, especially to the face, arms or legs, camouflage cosmetic specialists often prepare a plan and also assess the cost per year to purchase further items of camouflage cosmetics. Our team of personal injury solicitors ensure that the cost of any camouflage treatment is added to our clients’ final personal injury settlement award.
Miscellaneous expenses, incidental other costs, such as buying sunscreen to prevent your scar burning, parking charges for various appointments and any other monies you pay out, all of these can be included in a claim.
If you are not sure about what losses to claim, speak to MG Legal’s specialist Landlord Personal Injury Solicitors about how we can help you with your claim.
What should I do if I’m injured by non-Safety Glass in my rented home?
Get in touch with MG Legal’s team of expert Landlord Personal Injury Solicitors and we will look to help you, all on a No-Win No Fee basis. Some things you can do to help, once you have dealt with your injuries, include:
Taking pictures of the incident location and the damaged glass;
Take images of your injuries if possible;
Keep hold of any communication between yourself and your Landlord, or their Agent. This includes any communication before the incident as well as after;
Note any witnesses to the incident, or to any complaints about the hazard prior to the incident;
If possible, keep a piece of the broken glass as evidence;
Keep hold of, or request, a copy of the Tenancy inspection report from your date of moving in, or the most recent Landlord’s inspection;
Have a copy of your Tenancy Agreement to hand as there will be specific information in the Agreement about repair responsibilities.
We appreciate that not all of the above may be possible and the priority after any injury is to seek medical attention to ensure that you can make the best possible recovery. Once you have done that, get in touch with MG Legal and we will ensure that you are put in touch with one of our Landlord Personal Injury Specialists straight away for a no-nonsense, no obligation discussion about how we can help you. We aim to accept all claims on a Conditional Fee Agreement (No Win, No Fee agreement) basis so you have no up-front costs to worry about.