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Accidents in the snow

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Accidents in the snow

Every few years, usually following an unexpected snowfall or icy spell, stories start to emerge in the press of personal injury claims being made against individuals who have washed their cars in their driveways. The claimants are passers-by who have slipped on the ice that formed from the excess water running onto a nearby pavement. In reality there are virtually no claims of this nature as they would be almost certain to fail, but there are more serious instances where claims can be made.

Avoidable accidents in the snow

Whilst most rational people would accept that snow and ice presents us with slipping risk that is difficult to completely avoid, there are some injuries caused by slips on snow or ice that could and should have been avoided. For instance, busy areas outside old people’s homes, hospitals, schools, shopping centres and transport hubs need to be kept clear – so far as reasonably practical – for pedestrian traffic, especially where elderly or other more vulnerable people are likely to be moving about. Indeed local councils owe a statutory duty to take steps to prevent the highway becoming or remaining dangerous, and that included having a proper policy for dealing with icy weather.

The duty to have a proper winter weather policy applies to roads as well as pavements. Again, this is not an absolute duty, so main arterial routes should be prioritised for gritting before minor roads, and the extent of the gritting job should be proportionate to the danger. So if a driver loses control of his car on the bend of a country road on an icy evening there will not necessarily be a claim against the council for the injury and damage that result, but if that place was an accident hot spot and there was no policy in place to grit the road then the claim is likely to succeed.

Case study

An example of a case recently settled by Osbornes involved a lady who slipped on ice as she got out of her car in the car park of a large cinema chain. There had been snow several days before the accident, and most of the car park had already been cleared of snow and ice, with the exception of a few spaces, one of which was where the Claimant had parked. The Claimant injured her ankle as a result of her fall, and we were able to obtain nearly £4,000 for her in compensation.

What is important in cases such as this is showing that the defendant, whoever they may be, has been negligent in failing to properly deal with the threat presented by the snow or ice. Osbornes have an experienced team of legal experts who will quickly be able to assess the likely prospects of success of your claim, and therefore not waste your time if there is no realistic chance of success. Our professionalism and efficiency will also mean that the entire claims process, from your first conversation with us to the handing over of your compensation cheque will be stress free, with clear and concise explanations provided throughout.

Written by Stuart Kightley

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