Karla Hodgson was making her way home on the 17th of December 2016 at around 8pm.

Her route took her via a footpath with stairs to the side of Shaw’s Court in Aberdeen. This path was maintained by Castlehill Housing Association.

It was dark at the time and Ms Hodgson required to descend the flight of stairs as part of her journey. Illumination of the stairs was limited and although there were six stairs, only the top two were covered by street-lighting.

Although there was a handrail, it only covered the first five stairs that Ms Hodgson descended. She descended slowly taking one step at a time and upon reaching the end of the handrail, she believed that she had come to the end of the flight of stairs.

When Ms Hodgson stepped out, she was expecting the ground where there was none. She fell to the ground before being found by members of the public ad taken off to A&E.

Although they had regularly inspected the premises, Castlehill Housing Association never identified the lack of lighting upon the stairs as an issue, nor had any complaints ever been reported by residents. Shortly after the incident, the Association did however instal solar lighting above the stairs.

Decision

When the case called in Court, the judge held that the Association ought to have known the danger that inadequate lighting would pose to pedestrians using the stairs at night.

There is a British standard for the level of illumination for stairs and the judge found that the illumination fell far below this standard on the night of Ms Hogson’s incident.

The judge found that the stairs were so dark that the bottom steps were not visible to someone using them. This posed a risk that the Association were aware of when they had previously carried out inspections at night.

On this basis, he concluded that the reasonable occupier of a property would have installed a dedicated light for the stairs in order to meet their duty of care to pedestrians. Therefore, he found the Association liable.

When asked to find Ms Hodgson partly to blame, the judge did not find Ms Hodgson at fault.

The judge noted that she had acted as could be expected of a pedestrian and was not to blame for her fall.

Housing Association 100% to blame

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