07 Jan 2021
During the winter months, road conditions are often more hazardous and darker nights and poor street lighting usually lead to a rise in trips and falls. Puddles, leaves and ice can sometimes obscure potholes, making pavements and roads more dangerous, so there is definitely a higher risk for people who are out and about in cold, icy conditions.
It all depends on the circumstances of the accident.
If no one else was at fault and the accident was caused purely by the bad weather, it is unlikely that you will be able to pursue a claim. However, if someone has not adjusted their driving in accordance with the weather conditions, for example, then you would be within your rights to bring a claim against them.
If the accident was caused by snow and ice on a small country road, then it is unlikely that someone will be held responsible. However, if you slip on ice at the entrance to a busy shopping centre, you can probably make a claim against the owners of the centre, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Remember though that any claim will only be successful if the defendant has been negligent or is in breach of their statutory duty.
It depends on who owns the land where the accident happened. Local authorities are responsible for the roads and footpaths inside their area of control but some areas are privately owned. Your solicitor can carry out a Land Registry search to reveal who owns the land in question.
If the defendant is a local authority, a claim is generally brought under the relevant provisions of the Highways Act 1980. If the land is privately owned, the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 or 1984 is generally applied.
Any claim made against a local authority will only succeed if it can be proved that they did not implement a reasonable system of inspection and maintenance for the defect that caused the accident.
If you are aware of a particularly dangerous patch of road or pavement I your area, you should report this to the Council so that they can take steps to rectify it. Likewise, if you have an accident that’s caused by the condition of the pavement or land, make sure you report this as soon as possible time to those who you think may be responsible.
Before any claim can start, your solicitor must assess the prospects of pursuing a successful claim and put in place a suitable funding arrangement such as a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a ‘No Win, No Fee’. Details must be sent to the defendant who usually has anything up to three months to investigate and provide their response. Often, however, they do take longer. If fault is admitted, medical evidence to prove the injury you have suffered will need to be obtained before any settlement talks can begin.
If, on the other hand, liability is denied, the process becomes more complex. The denial of liability will need to be investigated by your solicitor, which will delay the progress of the claim as evidence such as witness statements will need to be gathered.
You will need to provide the date of the accident, details of the injury suffered and the circumstances of the accident so that an assessment can be made on whether the claim has sufficient prospects to be pursued. We also ask that you try and provide any details you have for the defendant, any witnesses to the accident and any photographs, both of your injuries and of the accident location.
If you have to drive in hazardous conditions:
If you are out cycling in the winter:
And if you are out walking in bad weather:
If you have been involved in an accident because of the wintry conditions, our personal injury team can tell you if you’re entitled to make a claim. Get in touch on 029 20 244233 or firstname.lastname@example.org.