Icy or snowy conditions in the UK can be very dangerous if you’re out and about. The reality is, whatever the weather is doing outside – most of us still have to get on with our day-to-day life. This means we still have to walk outside (while dressed appropriately for snow!), we may still have to drive our vehicles, catch a bus or train and we will still have to go to the supermarket.
The chances of suffering an injury sustained by slipping on an icy path, or an icy pavement or platform at a train or bus station or while shopping in a retail park, are drastically increased. However, not all such injuries are purely accidental – in many cases, they are caused because someone has breached their duty of care to minimise the risk of personal injury.
Find out more about claiming pavement accident compensation.
But given that the UK can often go a year or more without significant snowfall – our infrastructure has not needed to be geared towards a cold and snowy climate. Even when we do have extreme cold conditions, our cold snaps do not last for long. This means that it is not considered reasonable or cost-effective to require drivers to invest in winter tyres fit for the snow, as they do in place such as Canada and Norway. Nor would it be cost-effective for government to invest in more or fancy snow ploughs and the like.
The alternative is a country where, occasionally, we have heavy snow that creates much excitement for families; and dread for commuters and older people. Unfortunately, snow and ice also creates a significant risk of snow and ice injuries, such as broken bones, leg injuries, neck injuries and other painful injuries.
However, when risks are created, businesses, retail parks, transport operators and local authorities are all legally require to manage the risks to a reasonable degree. Hospital trusts should also take steps to clear snow and grit those areas of the hospital grounds where visitors have to walk. These businesses and organisations have a duty of care to minimise the risk of injury to any visitors using their facilities, premises and the transport system – and if they fail in their duty, causing a snow or ice slip, it’s reasonable that they should face a snow and ice claim by the injured person.
If you have suffered snow and ice injuries, you can claim compensation on a no win no fee basis. Just call free on 0800 234 6438 to speak with snow and ice compensation claim specialists or you can request a call back via our contact form.
The simple answer is – Yes. Almost all personal injury claims, including snow and ice claims, are made on a no win no fee basis. This means you only pay if your accident claim is successful – if you don’t win, then you won’t need to pay any money in legal fees or other costs. No win no fee claims is the way to make a personal injury claim without putting yourself at financial risk.
And if you make a claim and you’re successful, you’ll receive your compensation and can spend it however you choose. You’ll also need to pay your solicitor’s success fee as a percentage of your compensation – but this will usually be a small portion of your claim (and never more than 25% of the money you receive).
We all know that walking or driving in ice or snow is often unavoidable, particularly if you have to go work or to school or for a medical appointment. However, somebody – usually the local authority – is responsible for pavements in the UK and are expected to take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of slipping on ice and falls in the snow from happening. Our roads are harder to keep clear of snow and ice, but drivers are expected to take reasonable care when driving to reduce the risk of accident and injury to other road users.
The most common causes of slip/trip accident in snow and ice are:
If you’ve suffered an injury in cold or snowy conditions, it’s vital to seek medical attention straight away – apart from anything else, your medical notes will be important evidence for your case. And if you believe someone should be held responsible for your slip/trip in the snow, it’s important to get in touch with us for free advice on how you can make a no win no fee compensation claim. Call on 0800 234 6438 to speak with specialist lawyers or you can request a call back via our contact form.
It’s common to assume that if you slip/trip on icy paths, you’re unlikely to suffer anything more traumatic than bruising or, at worse, a broken wrist or arm. In reality, slips and falls in poor weather conditions can lead to serious injuries. The Health and Safety Executive says that 95% of major slips at work result in broken bones; and slips and trips are responsible for more than a third of all reported major injuries.
Injuries caused by slipping on an icy pavement can be almost anything you can think of, ranging from cuts and grazes to serious leg injuries. Examples of common injuries caused by an ice slip, fall in the snow and other cold weather accidents include:
Unfortunately, in serious cases accidents in the snow can cause life-changing injuries or even be fatal. During the cold snap in 2005, a 19-year-old died while sledging down a steep snowy slope and hit trees in a Northumberland park.
Similar serious or fatal accidents have happened in later cold snaps. It seems ironic that these uncommon weather events in the UK, which allow the rare chance for snow fun, can lead to a slip and fall injury – and, in some cases, tragedy.
It’s only fair that if the accident happened and it was someone else’s fault, they should be held accountable for any pain and suffering caused by a fall on ice.
It’s also worth pointing out that medical treatment following slip and fall on ice accidents is not always what it should be. Thankfully, it is uncommon that an injury or condition can be worsened because doctors have not properly diagnosed or treated the injured person.
However, when that does happen it is possible to bring a medical negligence claim – perhaps in addition to a personal injury claim in respect of the actual slip/trip accident.
It is very likely you can claim compensation if you’ve fallen on snow or ice on a road or pavement, though it can be confusing trying to decide who might have been responsible for the area where your accident happened.
But don’t worry, your legal adviser will be able to determine this for you. In most cases, pavements are the responsibility of the local council or highway authority. The local council/highways authority has a statutory duty under the Highways Act 1980 to make sure pavements and road surfaces are as safe as is reasonably possible.
This includes gritting or clearing walkways in icy or snowy conditions. However, because the areas for which they are responsible are huge, it would be unreasonable for them to grit every stretch of road or pavement; but they do have a legal duty to clear areas as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.
This means local authorities should prioritise those pavements which are busy, or where there aren’t any alternative routes, such as high streets, and areas around schools and hospitals.
So if you fall on ice and hurt yourself, you may well be able to make a claim. If the car park or pavement where you slipped and fell is maintained privately, your personal injury solicitor will be able to find out who is responsible for it.
It may be that no one can be held responsible for the slip/trip but your solicitor will be able to advise you about this. However, the local authority can be held responsible for most avoidable accidents on UK pavements, and personal injury specialists will take full details and explain what steps you can take.
Everyone has the right to go to work and feel safe from the risk of injury while they arrive and carry out their tasks. Employers are under a general duty of care to protect workers from the risk of injury in the workplace, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
However, adverse weather conditions does not absolve employers from their legal responsibilities – and it’s not expensive or difficult to grit external areas at the very least.
Importantly, an employer’s health and safety responsibility extends to the risks presented by winter weather conditions, whether that’s high winds and storms, heavy rain, or snow and ice. The fact is, slips and trips can happen in icy conditions at work, in the work car park or on paths leading to the building.
Slipping accidents are particularly likely on construction and building sites and other work areas which are open to the elements, because you’re clearly at a higher risk of injury in icy weather conditions. Workplaces in rural settings are particularly prone to snow and ice, making it more likely a worker could fall on ice and injure themselves.
Anyone who has slipped on ice and snow and injured themselves while at work, or in their employer’s car park, because the employer had failed to take precautionary measures, can probably claim compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation, you can speak with specialist solicitors on 0800 234 6438 or you can request a call back via our contact form.
Your employer’s responsibilities to protect workers from the risk of injury are clearly set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as well as other regulations, depending on the nature of the work and the industry. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, for example, require employers to assess risks (including slip and trip risks) and, where necessary, take action to address them.
As the UK winter rolls around, we all know that the weather conditions are unpredictable, but employers must be prepared nonetheless. The fact is, they know that extreme weather conditions create new risks and they need to plan ahead, keep an eye on the weather forecast so they know when cold conditions are expected, and undertake appropriate risk assessments and act on the risks identified.
Employers may decide to take preventative measures, such as keeping outside areas clear of ice and snow; regularly gritting those areas; and strategically placing warning signs. Car parks, walkways and building entrances should always be a priority to reduce the risk of slipping injuries while employees move around.
Employers also have a duty to provide adequate personal protective equipment, such as suitable footwear for working outside. Where an employer has not taken reasonable precautions to protect the safety of workers, and your fall on ice or snow, it’s only fair that they should be held responsible for the resulting injuries.
It’s very common for injured workers to be concerned that bringing fall on ice compensation claims will leave their employer out of pocket. After all, the winter weather isn’t their fault, is it? We understand this worry can put additional emotional and financial pressure on you if you’re worried about making a claim after a slip and fall in icy conditions.
However, your employer will have insurance covering the risk of personal injury compensation claims, including those that result from snow and ice. This means that if you do win compensation, the insurer will pay you slip on ice compensation and not your employer. This can be hugely reassuring.
A care home provider was held liable for a care worker’s wrist injuries sustained when she slipped on ice on a public footpath leading to an elderly client’s home. The employer had failed to provide her with protective footwear to prevent her slipping.
Fortunately, you have legal protection from being harassed or dismissed because you’ve make a personal injury claim against your employer. This means it is illegal for you to be fired or disciplined for making a claim against your employer. So if you find yourself in a position where you feel your life at work is being made difficult and you think it’s because you’ve made an injury claim (or your employer and/or colleagues know you’re considering making a claim), we can help you consider what action you could take.
If you were to lose your job (or feel you have no option but to leave), you could have an unfair dismissal claim in addition to your claim. Always seek specialist legal advice for guidance and support.
Just because you’ve slipped on privately-owned property, such as a private home, does not necessarily mean you cannot claim compensation. Owners and occupiers of land and property also owe a duty of care towards visitors to minimise the risk of injury under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957. This requires owners to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from harm, but how this looks in practice is not always clear.
How reasonable is ‘reasonable’ beyond, perhaps, clearing snow from the path leading to your front door so that the postman or the milkman can be reasonably safe from slipping over? In reality, it could in many cases be difficult to build a successful injury claim against a homeowner. However, if you have slipped on ice while visiting someone else’s private property and injured yourself, the most important thing you can do is take specialist advice from solicitors experienced in cold weather accident claims.
For a free initial consultation on making personal injury claims following such accidents, you can speak with specialist solicitors on 0800 234 6438 or you can request a call back via our contact form.
Snow and ice injuries statistics show that in the 2018 cold snap, icy weather conditions caused a 50% rise in fall injuries
Anyone, whether you’re a worker or member of the public, who has slipped on ice and injured themselves, and it was someone else’s fault, should be able to make a personal injury claim. It will, of course, depend on the circumstances of each individual case, and expert advice will be needed.
However, if it can be established that someone else – such as your employer, a shop owner or highways authority – owed a duty of care to clear ice and snow ice and to grit the area to minimise the risk of injury, and they failed in that duty causing your injuries, you should have a strong claim.
When you speak to a trained legal adviser, they’ll ask you some questions about your accident and injury so they can get a good picture of the circumstances and your injury, and the impact it’s had on your life. They can then advise if you can make a claim on a no win no fee basis and explain the claim process to you.
How much compensation you may win depends on the nature and extent of your injury because every case is different. This means it’s difficult early on to suggest an accurate compensation figure. However, in every case your solicitor will work to secure you the maximum amount of compensation possible. Factors that will be relevant include:
Accident claims are made up of two parts: general damages to compensate you for the actual injuries and your pain and suffering; and your financial losses (these are called ‘special damages’).
This depends on your injury, and your solicitor will arrange for you to have a medical assessment carried out by a medical professional who will then write a medical report of your injuries and your prognosis. This report is important when calculating a fair compensation figure for you.
Also, helpfully there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers refer to calculate what someone could be entitled to by way of compensation. For example:
Once they have a fuller picture, your solicitor will be able to give you a more accurate indication of how much compensation you deserve. They will also be able to discuss whether you should be able to settle your claim (most personal injury cases do settle before going to court). Slip and fall on ice settlement amounts are calculated with reference to the judicial guidelines and your advisor will seek the maximum possible on your behalf.
Claiming compensation to repay you for any financial losses caused by the accident, is fine so long as they are reasonable. Your solicitor will ask you for detailed information about the financial impact of your injury before calculating how much to claim. Usually, special damages would cover things like:
It’s important to gather invoices, payslips and any other proof that will help your solicitor prove to the other side that you should have these sums repaid.
We know the prospect of making ice and snow compensation claims can be daunting, but with the support of a trained legal adviser who can guide you through the claims process, you can proceed with confidence.
The best way to find out how to make a personal injury/fatal accident claim is to get in touch with a specialist solicitor for free legal advice on 0800 234 6438. They’ll ask about the incident and your injury and will be able to let you know whether they think you can make a case. There’s never any obligation to go ahead and make a claim, but if you decide to take the next step, your lawyer will guide you through the next steps.
Importantly, they will help you win maximum compensation by bringing a no win no fee claim under a conditional fee agreement with specialist personal injury solicitors who are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
It’s best to start claiming compensation as soon as you can because the law says you have three years from the date of injury to start legal proceedings. After three years, you could be ‘time-barred’ from making a claim. Importantly, by starting the process early you will have the benefit of remembering clearly what happened and being able to contact any witnesses before they move away or change phone numbers.
For early help and advice about making slipping and falling on ice injury claims, speak to a solicitor for free on 0800 234 6438; or if you prefer, you can request a call back using the claim form on this page.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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