The Telegraph’s legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors is an expert at winning compensation for clients in personal injury cases. This week he gives an overview of the types of cases the horrendous conditions we have being having can throw up and warns that law is strict on drivers, employers and occupiers of property while being unsympathetic to those who are injured through slipping on the street.
The recent arctic weather and the authorities’ failure to clear our roads mean that drivers run a serious risk of skidding and cashing every time they go out.
If you do have to drive in these conditions, you should be aware that you could be held legally liable for the consequences if you collide with another vehicle, even if it is caused by snow or ice.
It might sound harsh, but the law is unequivocal: Motorists are obliged to take account of the conditions under which they are driving.
If you fail to allow for snow or icy conditions in the way in which you drive this causes you to crash into another vehicle you will be liable for the costs of repairs.
You could also be sued by anyone who suffers injuries as a consequence, and that includes people in your own vehicle, another vehicle or anyone else such as a passer-by.
The law also takes a tough line in relation to pedestrians who are injured as a result of slipping on ice.
Although local Councils are obliged to maintain the roads and pavements which will include gritting, the law acknowledges that councils have finite resources and therefore cannot grit everywhere at once. If a council has gritting policy and sticks to it, it will be very difficult for a slipping victim to win compensation.
Private landowners, on the other hand, don’t enjoy the same exemptions. The law requires occupiers of property to take reasonable care. People injured because a private footpath has not been cleared or because of falling icicles from a roof may well be able to claim compensation.
Employers are rightly bound by the normal rules of Health & Safety and must therefore ensure everywhere in a workplace, including carparks and footpaths are maintained in a safe condition which of course includes a duty to lift ice and grit.
If you are injured in these circumstances consult a specialist no win no fee solicitor to establish if you are entitled to compensation.