Icy road injury compensation claims
The following guide sets out everything you should know about making a successful ice or snow car accident compensation claim.
Figures from the Department of Transport show that, during the colder-than-average winter of 2012, 544 people were seriously injured, 4,584 people were slightly injured and 38 people were killed in road accidents when there was snow or ice on the road surface. Bad weather can limit visibility on the roads and make the road surface more slippery. This makes driving conditions more dangerous and can result in more accidents if drivers fail to adapt their behaviour.
Anyone who has been involved in a an accident on the road as a result of ice or snow on the road may be able to make a claim for compensation.
Under The Highways Act 1980, local authorities have a duty to keep the primary roads in their jurisdiction passable and safe to use. The Highways Agency has a similar obligation to take care of motorways.
Both of these organisations are required to clear snow and ice from public highways. This is commonly done through the spreading of grit or salt to prevent snow or ice from settling in cold weather.
To make a successful compensation claim, the injury lawyer would have to show that:
- The relevant agency failed to clear the snow or ice hazard and thus was negligent
- The accident occurred as result.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Some roads are a greater priority than others, and it is up to the local authority to identify the primary roads in each area. According to the AA, drivers can expect around 40% of a road network to be covered. If the accident occurs on a minor road, it is unlikely that a claim can be brought. Local authorities are expected to focus their efforts, and their grit supplies, on the roads with the highest volume of traffic.
Even when a road is identified as a primary route, the local authority is only required to take "reasonable" steps to clear the highway. It is simply not possible to clear snow as soon as it falls, and the combination of rain and sub-zero temperatures can cause black ice to form far faster than a local authority is able to clear it.
Each case is assessed on the facts. If the accident occurred on a primary road and it can be shown that the local authority failed to take all reasonable steps to keep the road safe, then a claim may be brought. Reasonable steps might include:
- Having a program in place for gritting and snow clearance
- Observing weather forecasts
- Keeping sufficient stocks of salt or grit
- Displaying warning signs
- Closing roads that are particularly hazardous such as mountain routes.
The onus is not just on the local authority. Drivers are expected to take extra precautions in poor weather, for example by cancelling non-essential journeys, reducing their speed or fitting snow chains. The relevant rules are set out in the Highway Code.
If a driver fails to modify their behaviour, they may be held partly responsible for the accident. A claim may still be possible, but the compensation is usually apportioned between the parties under a split liability agreement.
If you were injured in an ice or snow car accident in the last three years (longer if children were involved) and someone else was to blame, then we can probably help you make a compensation claim.
See our Online Claim Eligibility Calculator for a better idea of where you stand.
No Win, No Fee car accident compensation claims get underway with the injured claimant agreeing a Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as a CFA) with their lawyer.
The CFA is, in essence, the contract between you and your solicitor. The document explains the work provided by your case handler, and crucially, the "success fee". This is the percentage to be taken from your total compensation when the case is successful.
Working with a Quittance personal injury lawyer, you will be able to prioritise your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be absolutely nothing to pay at the outset.
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About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
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