In Britain, we are often accused of being obsessed with the weather. During winter, we are faced with hazardous conditions for pedestrians and drivers alike due to the presence of black ice, snow or an icy surface.
The change in conditions can cause serious accidents if reasonable precautions aren’t taken. Some of the most common accidents which can occur include:
- Slip on ice on private premises such as in a supermarket car park or at a shop entranceway;
- Fall or slip due to icy conditions on the pavement or a pedestrian crossing;
- Skidding on ice on the road whilst driving your vehicle or bicycle;
- Slipping on ice on your employer’s premises.
There is a legal duty to remove snow and ice, the extent of which depends on the circumstances and location of where the accident took place.
Councils and local authorities are under a duty to keep roads clear of snow and ice. Section 41(1A) The Highways Act 1980 provides –
“a highway authority is under a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice.”
The key question in this instance is that of reasonableness, the local authority should have in place a reasonable system of gritting which will need to take into account the Councils resources. During the winter period, it is estimated that the various highways authorities use approximately 1.1 million tonnes of salt to grit the roads they are responsible for.
Each case must therefore be assessed on its own merits, for example, if you slip on ice on a city centre pavement then you are more likely to succeed in recovering damages than if you slip on a pavement in a quiet residential area.
The Occupiers Liability act 1957 provides that owners of premises must also offer safe access to any lawful visitors which means they should be ensuring the area has been gritted and removed of ice and/or snow to ensure the area is safe. Shop frontages and private car parks for example should therefore be gritted prior to visitors being allowed to use the area. They are expected to check weather forecasts and prepare to grit any high use areas accordingly.
There are a number of steps you should take immediately after an accident which will help your claim. This includes taking a photograph of the accident location and surrounding area to enable us to assess the conditions, obtain details of any witnesses and report your accident as soon as possible.
If you have suffered from an accident due to icy conditions, then contact our personal injury team on 0161 713 5575 or complete our online form on our website and we will be in touch as soon as possible to let you know how we can help.