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 the contact form at the top of this page 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 in 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 type of 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 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 it 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.