Dark nights, short days, Christmas decorations and cold weather can only mean one thing; Winter is here again. With Winter comes the inevitable threat of snow and ice, whilst this may cause an increase in slipping videos uploaded to social media, icy conditions also bring the danger of serious injury. It is important to know your rights if you have the misfortune of being injured from slipping on ice and whether you are eligible to bring a compensation claim.
Ice and snow are natural occurrences which are, sadly, unpreventable. As such, land owners such as Councils and businesses cannot be expected to keep all of their property clear of ice and snow at all times. However, there are rules in place which mean if you do fall and injure yourself on an icy patch you could potentially have grounds for a claim in personal injury.
This area of law is dictated by two pieces of legislation; the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 and the Highways Act 1980.
The Occupiers Liability Act 1957, which applies to all owners or occupiers of premises, states that all occupiers have a common duty of care towards visitors. Essentially, this means that land owners must ensure that all visitors are reasonably safe in using the premises at all times. As this suggests, the duty on a landowner, such as a gym, supermarket or train station is to take measures to ensure visitors are reasonably safe whilst on their premises. In icy conditions when slipping is a real risk this can mean keeping areas such as car parks and walkways clear from ice and snow and putting down grit. If you slip on a patch of ice in an area that has been partially or poorly gritted don’t automatically assume that you are not able to bring a claim. A poorly gritted path can lull visitors into a false sense of security and the results can be just as severe as not gritting the area at all.
What happens if you have slipped on a patch of ice on land that belongs to the Council, such a pavement for example? This is where the provisions of the Highways Act 1980 (S41) are applicable. Technically, most pavements are considered highways and so fall under the remit of your Local Council. The duty of the Council is to maintain their highways at the public expense and ensure that, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice. As this suggests, the duty of care found here is one of reasonableness, the simple presence of snow or ice does not automatically guarantee the right to bring a claim. The decision as to which pavements the Council will prioritise for clearing and gritting depends on a number of factors such as how frequently the highway is used and by how many people as well as whether there are any alternative routes pedestrians could take. The duty to grit and keep ice free, a pavement that runs through the middle of a busy town centre is therefore higher than that required for a cul-de-sac or rural street experiencing a similar level of conditions.
At Jordans Solicitors we believe it is important that innocent victims of injury receive the compensation they deserve following an accident. We understand that, as a victim of an accident, you need help and support to make a full recovery as soon as possible. If you have suffered a slipping or tripping accident and are unsure as to whether you can make a claim, we have a dedicated team of lawyers able to advise you and assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation. We have offices across Yorkshire in Dewsbury, Horsforth, Selby and Wakefield.