A Blackpool widow who was left bruised and bleeding after falling over a pothole has been told she will not be compensated – because the hole was not big enough
Barbara Fielding, 53, suffered a bleeding nose, a cut lip, and a large, painful lump on her head when she fell while walking her dog across Windermere Road in South Shore in December.
Now Blackpool Council says the pothole that caused her injuries was not deep enough to be considered a hazard – and that Mrs Fielding is not entitled to a penny of compensation.
She said: “I stumbled in the hole and fell flat on my face. I smashed my nose and cut my lip.
“As I got up I suddenly went dizzy and fell over and split my head open. There was blood pouring from my skull right down to the bottom of my neck.
“It was horrendous. I had to go straight to bed and I couldn’t stop vomiting.
“The pain was terrible. I didn’t want to get up at all but my daughter told me I had to go to A&E.”
Mrs Fielding was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where she was given a CT scan to make sure no serious damage had been done to her brain.
Mrs Fielding was left with severe trauma and bruising to her head and neck, as well as a black eye, and spent much of her Christmas holidays recovering in bed.
The mother-of-three said: “I had to cancel all my Christmas arrangements with my mum. I just stayed in bed feeling horrible and depressed.
“It took five weeks for the lump on my head to go down.”
The twice-widowed carer, who lives in Mersey Road, wrote to Blackpool Council requesting compensation for her injuries – only to be told in a letter sent this month that the hole was not big enough to be considered a hazard and that the Council could not be held responsible.
She said: “I wasn’t expecting a letter like that.
“The amount of people I spoke to, they said I was bound to get something because of how bad it was.
“I wasn’t going to put a claim in – I have never tried to claim compensation before - but I was told I should do it.
“I have been through a horrendous time and I have been honest about everything that’s happened. I even sent pictures.
“When I got the letter I thought ‘at last!’ - only to be told I was entitled to nothing.”
In a letter sent to Mrs Fielding and in a statement repeated to The Gazette, a council spokesman said: “It is not expected and would be impossible to fill every pothole that develops, however the council will repair any defect in the carriageway which on inspection exceeds a measurement of 40mm.
“Windermere Road is inspected on foot annually by trained and experienced highway officers employed by the council, and they last visited Windermere Road on June 22 2015.
“Nothing was found at that time which exceeded 40mm in the place where you fell.”
Mrs Fielding said:“I have had so many sleepless nights about this.
“They say the hole isn’t big enough to be considered a pothole – but how big does a hole have to be?
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the principle.
“They know the extent of the injuries I had because they’ve got the photographs.
“What gets me is that they are quick to send out letters asking for money but when the shoe is on the other foot it’s a totally different story.
“I just want to feel some satisfaction that they are taking this seriously.
“I know they can only pay out so much and obviously they have cut-backs to deal with and don’t want to be paying as many people as they maybe should, but when you see a claim with photographic proof of injuries you would think they would offer something.”
She added that the experience had had a long-term effect on her health and wellbeing.
She said: “I still don’t go outside much now. I’ve even changed my route when I walk my dog because every time I see that hole it brings it all back.”
In the letter, a solicitor forBlackpool Council said: “We accept that following your accident the inspector re-visited Windermere Road and ordered a repair of the hole where you fell and in another location.
“The council is however, able to rely on the fact that there is a regular inspection system in place and that in June 2015 the pothole in question was not considered dangerous.
“Unfortunately this means we unable to offer you any compensation as it is not accepted that the council has been negligent or in breach of its duty to maintain the carriageway in a reasonable condition.”