Winter accidents: making a personal injury compensation claim

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With the extreme weather that winter can bring, be that ice and snow or the storms we’ve experienced in recent weeks, everyday activities can become just that little bit extra hazardous. As a result, personal injury claims tend to rise during winter months.

Many accidents can occur during adverse weather conditions and claims arise from anything from slipping on ice in an area that hasn’t been gritted to car accidents caused by poor visibility or flooding.

Who is responsible for making sure public areas are safe in icy conditions?

Your council or Local Authority has a duty (as far as is reasonably practicable) to ensure that snow or ice on pavements and roads do not cause a danger to the public, and they will have risk assessments and procedures in place. However, they will only have a certain amount of gritting machines, with only a small amount of time to grit. When you think about the size of your area, it is not possible for your Council or Local Authority to grit every single road as it is not ‘reasonably practicable’, so they are not always liable for every accident that happens as a result of ice but it depends on what happened and where it occurred.

When it comes to privately owned land like car parks, the owner of the land is responsible for taking such care as is reasonable to maintain the safety of its customers so far as is reasonably practicable and will have their own procedures to follow. If you don’t know who is responsible for the land, your solicitor will be able to conduct searches to obtain this information as part of your personal injury claim.

How do I make a personal injury claim?

The first step is to arrange a meeting with a personal injury solicitor to discuss your accident and your options.

Your solicitor will write to the Defendant, e.g. the Local Authority or land owner, with allegations as to why they are believed to be at fault and the Defendant will either admit or deny liability. If liability is denied, the response will be assessed to see whether your lawyers are able to continue, and further documentation (i.e. witness statements) may be obtained.

If liability is admitted, the next step is to value the claim. Our team usually obtain copies of your medical records and arrange for you to be examined by an independent medical expert to prepare a report on your injuries for the purpose of your claim. This report is used to value the injury element of your case.

You will also be asked to provide any details of your financial losses with supporting evidence. Once the value of the claim is finalised, settlement negotiations will begin and settlement usually follows shortly after. If no agreement is reached, the matter may proceed to court, however, not many claims will reach this stage.

What information will I need to provide to make a personal injury claim?

Your personal injury solicitor will meet with you to obtain a full account of the accident, how and where it happened, why you think it happened, and what injuries you sustained. You will be asked to keep note of all expenses that you have incurred with supporting evidence, i.e. receipts for your claim for financial losses, and, on occasions, a “pain diary” to record your symptoms and recovery. You should keep any witness details in case they are needed to make a statement. It is always useful to have photographic evidence if the claim involves a slip,trip or fall, or anything defective.

If an accident is caused by bad weather, what are my rights when it comes to making a personal injury claim?

Unfortunately, not all accidents can be the subject of a claim. You will not be entitled to compensation unless the Defendant has acted negligently or breached a legal duty/obligation and that negligence or breach has caused your injury.

Each accident will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the best thing to do would be to speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible; they will be able to advise you as to whether there is a potential claim.

Is it true that I will be at fault if I clear snow or ice and someone is injured?

It is a popular belief that if you shovel snow from a public footpath and someone slips, you could be liable for a personal injury claim. This is a myth.

As clarified recently by the President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers( APIL), there is a difference between an accident that no one could have foreseen, e.g. a Good Samaritan clearing the pavement outside their house, and negligence (failure to grit a privately owned car park, for example) when making a personal injury claim.

Contact our personal injury solicitors in Bristol

If you’ve suffered from a personal injury that wasn’t your fault, in bad weather conditions or otherwise, our solicitors are here to help.

Contact our expert Personal Injury team by calling 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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