Tree root causes running injury


Frances is an active individual who enjoys cycling and running on a weekly basis with her local running club.


One Tuesday evening in October 2018, Frances was out for a training run with her club. She was running as part of a group on a footpath, parallel to the A701, Edinburgh Road, Penicuik. The footpath forms an important pedestrian route linking Beeslack High School, Aaron House Care Home and Mauricewood Primary School. It was dark and the footpath was not lit. Several tree roots had pushed up through the tarmac surface creating a hazardous surface. As Frances was running, she lost her footing on the uneven surface and fell to the ground sustaining injury.

Frances contacted Pedestrian Law Scotland to pursue a claim for personal injury.

Footpath at time of incidentFootpath at the time of incident

Repair work carried out to footpath

Repair work carried out to footpath 


Midlothian Council, who are responsible for the footpath, denied liability stating that the footpath was not regularly inspected. They stated that any inspection is reactive and takes place once they have been notified of a problem. There had been no previous reports or complaints regarding the footpath where the incident occurred. The Council stated that the defect had been unknown to them at the time of the incident, therefore they couldn’t be held liable. Interestingly, Midlothian Council repaired the footpath shortly after Frances’ incident had occurred.


We instructed a Civil Engineer to comment on Midlothian Council’s system of inspection (or lack of it). Our expert was of the opinion that the footpath should have been inspected at least once a year, as it was a well-used pedestrian route with the public. The reactive system of inspection was not sufficient. If the footpath had been inspected, the defect would have been noted and repaired prior to Frances’ accident, thus her injury was avoidable. We also took numerous statements from members of Fran's local running club.


Despite our extensive investigation work, the Council still maintained they were not liable. They refused to consider settlement and so we raised court proceedings for Frances. Within a few months, the Council’s lawyers made an offer to settle matters. The offer was reasonable and we accepted it.


We knew that Frances’ incident could have been avoided if the council had in place a system of inspection for the footpath. In this particular case, the footpath was well used by members of the community linking the High School, Primary School and a Care Home within Penicuik. The reactive system of inspection and relying on the public to report problems was simply not sufficient. The Council owed a duty of care to all users of the footpath and, as part of that duty, they should have inspected the footpath.

Our expertise and tenacious approach meant that we were able to secure a fair settlement for Frances to compensate for her injury and to allow her to replace her damaged Garmin watch.

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