Well folks it's getting to that time of year again when little Thom gets excited about building snowmen, me and Mrs Thom pretend to be fictional characters while devouring our son with presents and Granny Thom pulls on her granny-grip shoes. Yes, winter is here and the snow has arrived a lot earlier than usual.
It is this time of year that my phone rings a lot more frequently with people suffering personal injuries either as a result of an accident in the street as a civilian or involving a vehicle on the road. However, despite what people may think, advancing compensation claims for such personal injuries, is one of the most difficult tasks I have as a no win no fee solicitor.
Not only because the local Councils do not have an absolute duty to make sure that roads and paths are to be kept free from ice, but, I have found in the past that Judges take a policy view on claims advanced following accidents at this time of year for fear of opening the floodgates. Many times claims have been advanced for both people slipping in the street or being injured as a result of ice on the road, sometimes serious injuries. In the past, however, such claims have been met with some judicial resistance. If, for example, somebody is involved in a road traffic accident where they have skidded on black ice, then the Courts will be slow to find for them where they are of the view that the local authorities are only as good as the meteorological information given to them and also, that they have to prioritise primary routes over secondary routes once gritting has started. Also, if a claim is advanced for somebody slipping in the street, Courts are likely to take the view that the Council simply cannot keep every pavement free from ice and, once more, have to prioritise busier routes first which essentially means, as it did last winter, that some streets are never gritted due to continuous heavy snowfall and freezing conditions.
That said, if you have an accident at work slipping on ice then you are likely to have a good claim against your employer for failing to grit the workplace and similarly if you are a passenger in a vehicle or if someone crashes into your car having skidded on ice then you are likely to have a good claim against the driver for compensation arising out of their negligence.
So, be extra careful when driving in freezing conditions and also while walking on frozen pavements. It may even be worthwhile asking Santa for a pair of ice skates for Christmas.