Claiming compensation for accidents caused by snow and ice
The winter months can be a notoriously perilous time of year. Frosty and icy conditions mean we’re all more susceptible to an unfortunate slip, trip, fall or car accident. We might usher in the New Year with a hangover, but we don’t want to kick-start it with a few broken bones and bruises as well. Here are some of the most common ice-related injuries and what you should do to make a personal injury claim.
Road traffic accidents
Today’s roads can be hazardous at the best of times, but icy and snowy conditions can cause even the most experienced drivers extra problems, and the number of reported accidents rises steeply during the winter months. Icy roads and poor visibility all increase the likelihood of a collision.
The success of any icy road accident claim will depend on who was at fault and whose driving behaviour resulted in the collision.
The first factor to consider, however, is whether the road was sufficiently salted or gritted. If it wasn’t, you’re more likely to make a successful personal injury compensation claim. If, for example, it can be proven that the Highways Agency or local council failed to grit the road in circumstances where they could and should have done so, it might be possible to prove the accident was not the fault of the claimant.
If another vehicle is involved, the way both parties were driving will need to be taken into account. If one of the drivers is found to have been driving dangerously, or not adjusting their driving to take into account the risky conditions, the claim is more likely to be successful.
Passengers who have suffered an injury as a result of a car accident on an icy road can also make a personal injury claim.
Injuries in shops, supermarkets and other business premises
The Friday afternoon supermarket trolley dash is stressful enough, without the added ignominy and pain of slipping on some rogue ice. If this happens, you might be able to claim against the supermarket’s public liability insurance.
Every supermarket owes its customers a duty of care that covers the store, the car park, and the entire supermarket grounds. This means that, as much as is practically possible, all areas of the store should be safe and hazard-free to minimise the risk of customers falling foul to an unfortunate slip, trip or fall. Failure to do this constitutes a serious breach of duty of care.
The manager isn’t required to clear snow or ice from the whole care park, though pragmatic steps should be taken to reduce the risk of customers slipping in what would normally be considered high-volume areas and spots that are particularly dangerous. These zones should be gritted to break up the ice.
If the necessary precautions weren’t taken for an accident that was reasonably foreseeable, it might be possible to make a claim, if it can be established there was a failure in the supermarket’s duty of care.
If you suffer a slip or fall on ice at a supermarket car park, take photographs of the neglected area if possible, as well as noting contact details of eye witnesses. You’ll also need to provide proof of your injury for medical records.
You’ll also need to prove the location of the injury to differentiate the areas where certain levels of duty of care are owed. It’s therefore important to report the accident to the store manager and log it in the supermarket’s accident book.
It’s also possible that the accident was caught on CCTV, in which case it might be possible to obtain a copy of the footage to support your claim and prove the supermarket’s negligence.
Claims of this nature apply to supermarkets, retail parks and most locations with a customer car park.
Injuries at work
It’s common for employees to suffer slips and trips on ice when entering or leaving work premises.
All employers have a duty of care to ensure their employees work in a safe environment – and this goes for both inside the building and external areas such as the employee car park or any external entrances.
Employers can reduce the risk of ice-related accidents by identifying areas most likely to be affected by ice – such as car parks, entrances, walkways and shortcuts – and salting or gritting them. They can also divert employees to less hazardous routes.
If you suffer an injury at your workplace as a result of slipping on ice, you’ll need to back up your claim. Take photographs of the offending area (if possible) and contact details of any witnesses to the accident. If your earnings have been affected because of the accident, you may also be able to claim compensation for the loss.
Injuries on roads and pavements
Wintry conditions and icy surfaces make everyone vulnerable to an unexpected slip or fall – and as a nation it’s safe to say we’re not best equipped to deal with this kind of inclement weather. However, in most instances injuries sustained in icy conditions are regarded as unfortunate accidents with no chance of compensation, but there are a few circumstances under which you may be able to claim.
Icy paths and roads
When it comes to claiming compensation for accidents caused by snow and ice many people are under the misapprehension that all roads and pathways must be gritted to minimise the risk of people slipping. However, this isn’t true. The main priority for authorities and councils is to grit or salt major roads , motorways and some A roads to facilitate easy transport for essential supplies such as food and fuel, but they are not duty bound to salt or grit any particular roads.
It’s only when there are superfluous salt supplies, and as a matter of courtesy, that other areas such as private roads, bus routes, footpaths, side roads and town streets are treated.
During snowy or icy conditions, people clear their driveways and footpaths to make access easier – but they also have to consider the fact the route may also be used by others, such as the milkman, postman, friends, relatives and delivery drivers. Failure to clear the pathway or driveway of ice leaves you wide open to a compensation claim if someone slips and suffers an injury.
Half-hearted attempts at clearing snow or ice can sometimes exacerbate the hazardous conditions, leading people to believe the route is safe when it isn’t. If someone slips on a patch of ground that hasn’t been cleared properly, the person who didn’t do the job properly is personally liable for any injury compensation claim.
For specialist guidance on claiming compensation for accidents caused by snow and ice speak to one of our solicitors for a free case assessment and details of no win no fee funding. Call 0333 888 0408 or email us at email@example.com