A guide to making a No Win No Fee snow clearing accident claim
Each year, around 7,000 people are admitted to hospital as a result of slipping on snow or ice. The consequences of a slip, trip or fall can be quite serious, with injuries ranging from severe bruising and whiplash to broken bones.
The majority of slips occur on public highways that have not been properly gritted during a wintry spell. Accidents may also occur on business premises such as a shop or supermarket, train stations and other public places, at a place of work or even in a private home.
Where the property owner has failed to take reasonable steps to make the area safe, a claim for compensation may be brought.
Who is responsible for snow clearance?
Deciding who is responsible for the snow clearance depends on where the accident took place.
The local authority, for example, has a duty under the Highways Act 1980 to ensure that public pavements and roads are safe to use so far as reasonably practicable. The owners of shops, offices, stations, car parks and similar places are required to take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances for the safety of visitors under the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957.
Where the accident occurs at work, a claim may be brought against the employer who has duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to provide a safe place of work. This duty extends to avoiding slipping hazards in the external areas used for accessing a workplace such as a path or a staff car park.
Was the property owner negligent?
To bring a successful claim the injury lawyer must show that:
- By failing to clear the snow and ice, the property owner was negligent; and
- The Claimant suffered injury as a result.
Proving negligence can be difficult. Local authorities and property owners are required to take "reasonable" steps to clear the area - they do not have to ensure that pathways are clear and safe for use at all times. Indeed, constantly clearing snow and ice would be impossible during a particularly wintry spell.
Each case will turn on its own facts. If the slip occurred on fresh snow, then it is unlikely that a claim can be made. The local authority or property owner could reasonably maintain that they did not have enough time to eliminate the slip hazard and the Court likely would accept that defence.
If, on the other hand, it can be shown that property owner or relevant authority:
- Did not take account of weather forecasts
- Failed to keep sufficient salt or grit in stock
- Failed to clear paths when neighbouring property owners did
- Failed to put up warning notices or close the premises if necessary
then an argument may be made that the property owner behaved in negligent manner. Compensation may be sought for any resulting injuries.
Snow clearance and the private citizen
Private citizens often behave in a socially responsible manner and attempt to clear snow themselves. It is extremely unlikely that a good citizen will be liable if someone is injured in a slip accident at their property as long as they acted carefully when clearing the snow, for example, by taking steps to ensure the area did not become more hazardous. People walking over snow or ice have a responsibility to be careful themselves.
The Government has issued guidance for people clearing snow and ice from the pavement outside their home or other public spaces. This is known as the "Snow Code." Advice includes:
- Clearing snow and ice early in the day when it is fresh and easier to move
- Using salt or grit rather than water to clear the ice as water can refreeze and turn into black ice, making the area more dangerous
- Using extra salt on steps and steep pathways
- Taking care not to shovel snow in a way that blocks other people's drains or paths
- Clearing other people's paths wherever possible, especially if neighbours are elderly or disabled.
No Win, No Fee snow clearing injury claims explained
No Win, No Fee injury claims effectively start with an injured party agreeing to a Conditional Fee Agreement (also known as a CFA) with a solicitor.
A Conditional Fee Agreement is, in essence, the contract between the personal injury solicitor and you.
The agreement sets out the service executed by the solicitor handling your case and a percentage success fee to be deducted from your award when the claim is won.
You are able to focus on your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be nothing whatsoever to pay at the outset. There are no hidden charges when choosing a Quittance personal injury solicitor.
We recognise that people having been injured in an accident will probably have questions before deciding on whether or not to go ahead with an ice slip compensation claim.
For specific answers to your questions relating to claims work, e.g. "Is there a penalty if I withdraw from my claim early?", why not go to our FAQs.
What should I do next?
Quittance's solicitors provide no-obligation consultation to explore your options, should there be any other answers you require before making a decision.
A free Compensation Claim Report includes factors from how much compensation might be awarded to how long the claim could take to process, and the chance of success.
When you are ready, You can start your compensation claim online now, call us on 0800 612 7456 or request a callback at the most convenient time for you.