During this time of the year, ice and snow can create particularly treacherous conditions for road users and pedestrians. Unfortunately this means that the risk of tripping and slipping is very high. But who is to blame if you injure yourself? Let’s get into the nitty gritty...
Under section 34 of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, local authorities are required to “…take such steps as they consider reasonable to prevent snow and ice endangering the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles over public roads”.
This is not an absolute duty.
What does this mean?
Local authorities are expected to implement a winter weather policy which gives a detailed explanation of the precautions that they intend to take to prevent danger or injury in the winter months. They are expected to have a system in place for gritting the roads and pavements, and should also issue warnings if icy conditions are looming.
If someone does slip and injure themselves, it is very difficult to establish that the local authorities are to blame for the accident. With a lack of resources, the local authorities cannot be expected to have every road and pavement gritted. Main roads and bus routes are prioritised first, specifically “those to schools, hospitals, police and fire stations, bus depots, city centre precincts, steep hills, park-and-ride stations, bus stations, and garages”. Please see your local council website for more information.
Local authorities can also be excused from failing to grit smaller roads and pavements if it can be shown that they followed a reasonable system of inspection.
What duties do motorists have?
Motorists have a primary duty to take care for their own safety and that of their passengers and other road users. They must drive appropriately for the road and weather conditions. Pedestrians also have a responsibility to exercise due care.
If you are a passenger in a vehicle or if someone skids on ice and collides with your vehicle, you may be able to make a successful claim for damages arising out of their negligence.
What if I have an accident at work or within a business premise?
It is possible to make a claim against your employer or an occupier if you injure yourself during the course of your employment or within a business premise. If your employer or an occupier has failed to grit or salt the areas, you may be able to claim that they failed in their duty of care to keep the area reasonably safe and free from hazards.
Talk To Thompsons
If you have been involved in an accident due to the adverse weather conditions, get in touch with us for advice on 0800 0891 331.
Blog by Charlotte McTavish