Posted 9 months ago by aequitaslegal in
Recent icy weather has seen pavements, pedestrianised areas and other public areas become potential trip and slip hazards.
As the recent Winter Olympics showed, slipping and hurting yourself while on ice is easily done – so for us non-athletes, extra care is needed.
But even taking all the precautions you can, accidents can still happen – and if you’re hurt through no fault of your own, you could be entitled to compensation.
In most cases, your own front step or driveway is your own responsibility – so any slips and accidents there are yours to deal with.
But in a public place, the responsibilities for keeping safe and clear of ice change depending on the type of area:
Local authorities will usually be responsible for ensuring roads and pavements are safe to use.
According to the Highways Act 1980, any responsible authority has a duty to ensure this as far as is reasonably practicable.
Employers are usually required by law to ensure that their
complies with the necessary safety standards.
This could include areas like entrance lobbies, car parks, steps and wheelchair access ramps.
Legislation dictates that the occupier of a publicly accessible area has to take reasonable care to ensure visitors can safely use their premises.
This could cover footpaths, walkways
steps, plus any other spaces where snow and ice could cause problems.
The real problem with slips on ice in public areas is proving whether or not the accident is due to negligence.
For example, road and pavement surfaces are usually covered by local authority plans that
most-used routes over minor thoroughfares.
This is due to obvious factors like budget and time but also practicalities such as staff resource and grit reserves.
Timing is also a consideration – if someone slips and falls on ice within a few minutes of it freezing, it’s unrealistic to expect it to have been cleared instantly.
But to leave frozen surfaces unaddressed for days, to claim slidey victim after victim – that could be seen as negligence.
Solicitor Paschal Kelly highlights how compensation claims for slips and trips on ice can be tricky:
‘Although the injury itself and the subsequent long-term effects are usually clear to see, proving negligence requires a bit more specialist expertise.
‘While compensation can be sought for anything from severe bruising to broken bones, there are factors that need evaluating by experienced professionals.
‘Words like reasonable and expected are always open to interpretation, especially in court, so a solid case needs to built on the right conversations.
‘A specialist personal injury solicitor with an understanding of responsibilities relating to slips on ice will be able to get these underway.’