Mon 19 Dec 2022

Winter weather accident claims

Scotland's winters bring with them more extreme weather conditions.  We have already experienced storms, high winds, heavy rain, snow and ice and it is only December!  

These hazardous conditions result in an increased risk of accidents happening to anyone who has to go out and about.  It is worthwhile investing in reflective clothing if you walk or exercise outdoors in winter months, cyclists should ensure they have appropriate lights on their bikes and drivers should adjust their driving according to the road conditions being mindful of the potential for black ice. 

Who is liable for snow or ice related incidents?

Despite taking additional precautions, it is inevitable that there will be accidents.  The types of injuries which regularly occur range from minor bruising to more serious and potentially long-term injuries such as broken bones and head injuries. 

Many people consider it is just bad luck if they slip, trip or fall in icy or snowy conditions.  However, if the accident occurred due to the negligence of a local authority, business or individual, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation. 

Road accidents during winter

All road users including motorists, motor cyclists and cyclists need to take extra care during winter months due to the increased risk of a crash happening.  There is a duty on them to drive according to the road conditions and failure to do so may result in a claim for negligence being made against them if they cause an accident due to reckless driving.  As an example, a pedestrian would likely be successful in making a claim against a motorist who drove too fast given the icy and snowy conditions and subsequently lost control of the vehicle and collided with them.  However, the local authority could also potentially be liable for a failure to grit the road if the slippery conditions caused the accident.  This is often a tricky claim to succeed in and it will depend upon the particular council's winter weather policy which will detail the actions the local authority commit to taking in freezing weather conditions. 

In terms of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 there is no absolute duty on local authorities to grit all roads and pathways.  In practice, a lack of resources would prevent this.  This means that a court would not hold a local authority liable for an accident which occurred due to ice on a smaller roads or pathways.  It is therefore imperative that motorists take care and drive appropriately for the road and weather conditions.  Pedestrians also must take extra care in difficult conditions and be aware that they may not be visible to other road users. 

Find out more about making a claim following a road traffic accident

Accidents in public places during winter

Not all locations will be held to the same standard by the court and so it is important to seek advice on the prospect of successfully making a claim depending upon the circumstances of the accident.  As an example, if you slipped due to melted snow or ice at the entrance of a shop or supermarket, the business may be held liable for your injury.  However, if you slipped in their car park, the court is less likely to find the business liable for not ensuring that the entire carpark was gritted and salted.  Higher duties of care will be enforced by the court for accidents which occur due to failure to treat ice and snow on steps and platforms at bus and train stations.  These higher duties will also likely be enforced at schools, hospitals and places of work in car parks and at entrances.

Accidents at work in the winter 

Your employer has a duty of care to take steps to minimise the risk of any accidents occurring as a result of a slip or trip on ice accident.  In the event you are able to show that your employer failed to take steps to prevent an accident occurring, it is likely that you will be able to establish they have been negligent.

Find out more about making a claim following an accident at work.

How much will your claim be worth?

The value of your claim will depend upon the nature of your injury. Our compensation calculator can provide you with an indication on how much your claim may be worth. In addition to a claim for your pain and suffering caused by the injury, you are also entitled to claim for past and future loss of earnings and any medical expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident. Our previous blog on this subject sets out the various claims you may be entitled to make. 

If you have been involved in an accident which you think was caused due to the negligence of a business, local authority or individual, please get in touch with our personal injury team and we will provide you with expert advice on your prospects of successfully making a claim, provide you with practical advice and guide you through this process.

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