Slips and trips on public pavements are among the most common accident claims that are processed by personal injury lawyers in the UK. Slips on an icy pavement can cause serious long-term injuries, particularly to the elderly, people with disabilities and young children.
If you slip on an icy pavement and suffer an injury, it may be possible to hold your council or local authority liable for compensation. Local authorities are responsible for the maintenance of public walkways and pavements. It is public money that funds maintenance activities of this kind. It is therefore the duty of the local council to ensure that pavements, walkways and other areas where members of the public have access to are safe to use and in good condition.
During icy weather conditions, the local council should grit walkways, roads and pavements to make them safe for members of the public. If they fail to take such action and it results in you being injured following a slip on an icy pavement, you may be able to make a claim against the council.
To find out if you are eligible to make a personal injury claim following a slip on ice or snow, you can request a call back using our simple online claim form or call free on 0800 678 1410. A friendly legal adviser will call you back to discuss your accident and can let you know within minutes if you are entitled to pursue a compensation claim.
The dangers of slipping on an icy pavement
To be eligible to make a claim for compensation following a slip on ice, the fall must have caused you to sustain injuries. Minor slips can result in strains, bruising and whiplash injuries, whereas more serious accidents with heavy falls can cause fractures, broken bones and head injuries.
In many cases, the danger of a slip on ice is the speed at which a person hits the ground. As they have little time to protect themselves from the fall, and they often fall backwards, the head, neck and back are at risk of taking the brunt of the impact. Where a person is able to put their hands down to help soften the blow, it can easily result in fractures to the wrists, elbows and arms.
These types of pavement accidents are dangerous for people of all ages, but the elderly are particularly at risk of suffering broken bones and other significant injuries.
Statistics published by the Hospital Episode Statistics for England show that in 2014/15 there were 2,919 people admitted to hospital as a result of slipping on ice or snow. The age group most at risk were people between the age of 60-69 years old, which accounted for 658 of the admissions to hospital.
Responsibility of Councils to Clear Snow and Ice from Pavements
Under the Highways Act 1980, the highway authority responsible for a particular area (which is usually the local council) has a duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that snow or ice on pavements and roads does not cause a danger to members of the public.
The term ‘reasonably practicable’ is the key point of this legislation and the duty placed on local councils. This means that a council cannot be held liable for all accidents caused by ice on pavements within their jurisdiction.
Councils are responsible for gritting pavements during icy conditions, but they cannot be expected to grit every single road and pavement. This would not be considered to be ‘reasonably practicable’ due to financial, labour and logistical restraints.
Local authorities, therefore, need to prioritise certain areas to focus their attention on. This would include the volume of pedestrians that use the area and whether or not there are alternative routes that could be used. If you have slipped on ice on a main high street or a pavement outside a school or a hospital, you would stand a better chance of making a successful injury claim, as these would be considered as high risk areas. If the slip happened on a quiet residential street or on a freshly frozen pavement, the local council would have a stronger defence against any potential claim.
Am I eligible to make a compensation claim for a slip on ice?
If you have slipped on ice and would like to find out if you are legally entitled to pursue a claim for accident compensation, the quickest option is to speak to an experienced personal injury solicitor. To be eligible to claim you would normally need to meet the following criteria:
- You must have sustained injuries from the fall. If you slip on ice and are lucky enough to escape injury, you would not be entitled to any compensation for the accident.
- The accident must have been someone else’s fault. For a slip on an icy pavement belonging to a local council, the council will need to be found at fault for failing to ensure the pavement is safe for members of the public. This is something your solicitor will be able to investigate for you when starting your claim.
- The accident must have happened within the last 3 years. With injury claims, including slips on ice, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to make a claim. If you were under the age of 18 when you had your accident, the 3 year period begins on your 18th birthday. Although you have 3 years, the sooner you speak to a solicitor the better.
Don’t worry if you are unsure about any of the above criteria, as an injury solicitor will be happy to assess your chance of making a successful compensation claim during a free consultation. To find out more, call free on 0800 678 1410 or start your claim online.
How much compensation could I claim for a slip on ice?
The amount of compensation you could receive for a fall on ice largely depends on the extent of your injuries and how they will affect your life in the long term. Your solicitor will consider how the accident impacted your daily life and all your related financial losses to work out a fair settlement.
The compensation award in a slip on ice claim will usually cover:
General damages, which refers to the amount of money you will be awarded to compensate for the pain, suffering and other subjective losses such as:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Physical or mental impairment
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of amenity, such as the inability to pursue a hobby
Special damages, which includes financial losses and expenses that can be mathematically calculated, such as:
- Short and long-term medical expenses for medication and treatments
- Medical equipment such as mobility aids
- Past and future lost wages
- Loss of a unique career
- Cost of rehabilitation and therapy
- Adaptations to your home or vehicle to accommodate a disability
- Any other financial expenses related to your injuries
The Judicial College is a branch of the Ministry of Justice that publishes guidelines for compensation awards for all types of personal injuries. Solicitors, courts and insurance companies often refer to them to calculate how much a victim should get for general damages. According to these guidelines, you could receive:
- £7,780 to £12,010 for a minor leg injury with full recovery within a few months
- £11,730 to £59,730 for moderate foot injuries resulting in permanent deformity and mobility issues
- £11,730 to £42,710 for a moderate ankle injury that leads to an increased risk of osteoarthritis
- £55,590 to £76,690 for a severe knee injury such as ligament tear or fractured kneecap
- £10,040 to £19,530 for a severe wrist injury causing permanent pain and stiffness
- £10,890 to £16,380 for a humerus fracture or ligament tear needing surgery
- £5,630 to £36,770 for mild arm injuries causing long-term mobility issues
- £3,710 to £11,820 for a hip injury that may cause a minor or short-term disability
- £1,890 to £6,870 for minor head injuries such as cuts or lacerations
- £40,410 to £85,150 for moderate brain injuries affecting concentration and memory
- £3,150 to £80,250 for post-traumatic stress disorder, depending on severity and recovery prospects
You can use our compensation calculator or speak to a personal injury solicitor to get a better idea of how much you could receive for your fall on ice accident.
Can I claim for a slip on ice or snow at work?
According to the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and other relevant legislation, your employer has a legal duty to take all reasonable measures to protect your health and safety at work. If you slipped on ice or snow at work, you might be able to claim compensation if:
- Your employer breached their duty towards you by acting negligently
- That caused you to have a fall on ice accident
- You suffered an injury as a result of this accident within the last three years
Employers have the responsibility to reduce the risk to workers from slipping on icy pavements and other areas to a minimum. Their duties include:
- Identify and assess the routes most used by employees
- Clear the snow or grit in these areas within a reasonable timeframe
- Place warning signs where there is a risk of slipping on ice
- When possible, provide alternative safer routes
- Provide proper training to employees who have to work in icy conditions
- Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE)
Falls on ice can also happen in car parks or paths leading to buildings. Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984, the business owner has a duty to not only keep their employees safe but also any visitors and customers.
If your employer or a business owner failed to take the necessary actions to avoid accidents caused by icy pavements and you want to claim compensation, you will need proof to support your slip on ice claim, such as:
- Photographs of the accident scene and your injuries
- Witness statements
- Hospital reports about the extent of your injuries and the treatments you received
- CCTV footage of your accident, if available
- Report the accident to the responsible party and ask for a signed copy of the accident log book entry
- Keep track of all the financial losses and expenses related to the accident
- Keep a diary of how the accident occurred and how it impacted your daily life.
Your solicitor will contact the responsible party and inform them of your allegations of negligence. If they admit liability, you may begin to negotiate a settlement. Otherwise, you may have to issue court proceedings and argue your claim before a judge (although this happens in less than 5% of all personal injury claims).
How long do I have to make a claim for a fall on ice?
The Limitation Act 1980 imposes a general time limit of three years to make a slip on ice claim, starting from either:
- The date of your accident; or
- The date you became aware that you had suffered an injury from the accident, also known as the date of knowledge.
However, there can be some exceptions to the three-year limitation period in personal injury claims. For example:
- If someone under 18 was injured after a fall on ice, the three-year countdown is suspended until they turn 18 and can make a claim on their own. During this period, a litigation friend, which is usually a parent or guardian, could claim compensation on their behalf.
- The time limit to claim is frozen if the victim is an adult with limited mental capacity. According to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, you could make a slip on ice claim on behalf of a protected party who suffers from:
- PTSD or another stress-related disorder
- A neurodegenerative disease such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- An intellectual disorder such as Down syndrome
- A mental health condition such as schizophrenia
- A traumatic brain injury or stroke
If the victim regains their intellectual ability and nobody has claimed compensation for their fall on ice, they will have three years to take legal action from that point.
- If a loved one passes away due to a severe icy pavement accident, you could make a claim within three years after the date of death. Fatal accident claims can be made by anyone depending on the victim, including their spouses, children, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles.
- If you suffered an injury due to a slip on ice abroad, you might still be able to claim compensation. However, the time limit can vary considerably from country to country, so you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Regardless of what time limit might apply to your case, it is advisable that you speak to a solicitor at the earliest opportunity. As a general rule, this will make it easier to collect evidence related to your fall on ice accident, speak to witnesses and build a strong claim to secure compensation for your injuries.
Can I make a claim on behalf of my child?
Yes, both parents are allowed to claim on behalf of a child who suffered an injury due to a slip on ice. Furthermore, any other adult can represent them as a litigation friend, as long as they:
- Can fairly and competently conduct legal proceedings
- They do not have a conflict of interest with the victim
To make a slip on ice claim on behalf of your child, you have to apply to the court with evidence that you are capable of acting on your child’s behalf. If you instruct a personal injury lawyer, they will take care of this for you.
Your role as a litigation friend brings many responsibilities, including:
- Attend any court hearings
- Approve and sign legal documents
- Regularly consult with the solicitor and take legal advice
- Take decisions about the claim and consider any compensation offers
- Pay any fees requested by the court
- Make sure your child attends all their medical appointments
You will be released from your role as litigation friend when either of the following occurs:
- When the claim concludes, whether or not you receive compensation
- Your child turns 18 and can take over the legal proceedings
- If you or another individual apply for a replacement with a valid reason
The compensation for your child’s icy pavement accident would cover pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as well as all the financial expenses you incurred, such as medical expenses and lost wages if you took time off work to look after them.
All child injury claims must go through an Infant Approval Hearing before a judge. They will examine the available evidence and consider the child’s injuries to decide if they received a fair compensation award. Your child may be asked to attend the hearing, depending on their age and injuries.
You do not, however, have access to the child’s settlement. Instead, the money will be kept in a court bank account and released to the child once they turn 18. Your solicitor could also help you set up a personal injury trust in your child’s name.
The court may sometimes allow early release of some of the funds if you can prove that you need the money to cover urgent expenses such as medical or education costs that you cannot otherwise afford.
Can a slip on ice claim be made using no win no fee?
When you get in touch with a solicitor, they will ask you questions about how your accident occurred to determine whether you have valid grounds to make a slip on ice claim. If your case has merit and you have no legal expenses insurance, they will offer you a no win no fee agreement.
No win no fee is the most used option to fund a personal injury claim because it offers a series of unique advantages to the claimant, such as:
- The possibility to take legal action regardless of your financial situation
- Having legal representation without paying an upfront fee to your solicitor
- You get help and advice at every step of the injury claims process
- Your solicitor will know exactly how much compensation you are entitled to for your fall on ice
- They will take care of all the legal paperwork and conduct negotiations on your behalf
- Your solicitor knows how the legal system works and how to fight common defensive strategies
- If you do not get compensated for your slip on ice, you do not have to pay your solicitor
Another essential part of your no win no fee claim is the After the Event (ATE) insurance policy. This is a legal expenses insurance that you can take out once you become aware you will be involved in a legal process. If you lose the slip on ice claim, the ATE insurance will cover all your costs and disbursements, such as:
- Court fees
- Police and medical reports
- Expert witness fees
- Travel expenses
- Barrister fees if your case goes to court
- The other side’s solicitor fees
- The cost of the ATE insurance premium
In a no win no fee claim you only have to pay anything if you receive compensation for the damages you incurred due to the icy pavement accident. You will keep all of your compensation, minus a success fee which is paid to your solicitor for the risk they took by offering you a conditional fee agreement. The success fee cannot exceed 25% of your award for pain, suffering and past financial losses and will be agreed upon from the beginning.