November 6, 2014
If you were walking on the street and suddenly tripped over, falling to the ground due to the dangerous conditions of the pavement, you are entitled to claim compensation.
Article 106.2 of the Spanish Constitution establishes that “Individuals, in the terms established by law, are entitled to compensation for any injuries suffered in any of their property and rights, except in cases of force majeure, provided that the injury is a result of the functioning of public services.”
More specifically, we must consider that street maintenance is a duty for the local authorities. Therefore, in cases of slips and falls on public pavements, one refers to Article 54 of Law 7/1985, regulating Local Government, which states that local authorities are directly liable for damages caused to individuals and their property rights arising from the functioning of public services.
What are the requirements to claim compensation for damages? To substantiate your claim, the alleged harm must be effective, economically assessable, individually suffered and you must not have the legal duty to bear it. Of course, you must be able to prove the link between the state of the pavement and the actual injuries suffered. You must also take into account that there is a statute of limitations of one year for the submitting of claims against the authorities.
Regarding the liability of the public administration, this is a strict liability, which means that in order for you to be entitled to compensation, there is no need to prove that the Administration was negligent. We must, however, bear in mind that the local authorities are not to be considered as an all-risk insurance company that pays for any injury that is caused in the street. In slip and fall cases, Courts may reduce the initial compensation, taking into account the injured person´s attitude. This means that, although the pavement may be damaged, the passerby must pay attention to its state and to the obstacles that he may find in his way. In cases such as the above, local authorities only pay the share of compensation that the Judges believe they are liable for.
How much money am I entitled to? It is crucial to bear in mind that Article 139.1 of Law 30/1992 on the Legal System of Public Administrations and Common Administrative Procedure, establishes the general principle of full compensation. That is, compensation has to cover all items of damage, including personal injuries and property damages. Among the latter, we include possible future damages and loss of earnings, including rehabilitation bills, pharmacy bills, etc.