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In usual circumstances – not involving ice and snow – it is often possible to claim personal injury compensation after a slipping accident and we have previously covered the subject of knowing whether or not you may have a valid claim for this. However, there is a big difference between suffering a nasty personal injury as a result of negligent health and safety practices and being injured after falling on ice or snow.
In winter we get many calls from clients who have fallen on icy paths and steps, and sustained nasty injuries – usually fractures to wrists and arms. But does that mean they have a claim? Unfortunately, in the vast majority of these cases, we are unable to assist and have to reject the claim. It falls down to a duty of care and the strength of liability against the people or authority responsible for the area in which the individual fell.
Typically, should someone slip and fall on a public footpath due to ice, it is highly unlikely that they would be able to prove sufficient liability against the local authority highways department responsible for the path to enable them to win any claim for personal injury compensation.
Ice and snow responsibilities
In usual circumstances, a slipping accident is generally caused by a spillage or a leak. In this case, a business, shop or restaurant has a responsibility to clear up the spillage in a reasonable time, erect a hazard sign to warn customers of a possible danger or to ensure that the leak is repaired. If the business can be shown to have failed to take these steps in a reasonable time, they could well be held liable for injuries sustained should a customer slip and fall. This is reasonable and can be labelled as ‘foreseeable risk’.
There is also a duty of care when it comes to ice and snow. For example, work yards where an employer expects staff to operate must be treated within a reasonable time of the ice appearing. Car parks and entrance ways at places of work or schools should also be treated – or signage situated to warn of the hazards. Steps and platforms at bus and train stations are also subject to higher duties of care.
If you fall in any of these places on snow or ice ensure that your accident is recorded in the accident book, seek medical attention and then call us! It is likely that we will be able to take such a claim forward for you.
However, the same rules do not necessarily apply to all locations. For example, if you were to slip on ice in the car park of a supermarket, it is unlikely that you could hold them liable for your injuries. Whilst they would have a responsibility to ensure that the entrance area, trolley storage area and shop floor were free from hazards, it is doubtful that a court would agree that they should have ensure that the car park was free from ice, or fully gritted and salted.
The same applies to slipping on pavements if they are icy. Local authorities have a responsibility to grit/salt the roads and they do so in order of importance, with the major routes like motorways and A-roads being prioritised over lesser roads. Pavements are generally left untreated as it isn’t really feasible to expect the local authority to have the manpower or equipment to treat all roads and pavements in inclement weather. So in a nutshell, if you are walking on icy paths, take care – you are unlikely to be able to claim compensation for any injuries sustained.
Road users such as motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists must also accept that using the roads in icy or snowy weather is inherently risky. However, if you were injured in a road traffic accident on a major road and it could be proven that a local authority had failed to treat the highway in question (a very difficult task!) you could then pursue a claim for compensation.
Find out if your claim could succeed
In any event, if you are unsure whether or not you can claim personal injury compensation as a result of slipping, falling, crashing or coming off of your bicycle as a result of snow or ice, the best thing to do is contact us. We’ll let you know whether or not we thing you have a viable claim and if so, help you to make your claim for personal injury compensation.