Can I Claim Compensation For An Accident Caused By Bad Weather?
Winter is closing in on us, causing an increased risk of accidents due to bad weather.
Many people consider bad weather conditions as ‘an act of god’ – temporary and out of anyone’s control; therefore, you cannot pursue a personal injury claim for any resulting injury. However, this is not always the case; there are some circumstances in which a resulting injury could be someone else’s fault and have been avoidable.
The success of the claim will depend on whether you can prove negligence. This requires you to show that someone owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty, and that you were injured as a result.
This blog considers different examples of when bad weather can cause injury:
Road traffic accidents
Bad weather brings additional dangers to the road, impacting road conditions and visibility.
Motorists have a duty of care to all other roads; they should, therefore, drive with caution and care at all times. When a road traffic accident is caused by bad weather, such as ice, many drivers presume they are automatically void of responsibility. However, this is not always the case. It may be viewed as a contributing factor to the accident, but they can still be found negligent for unsafe driving.
The highway authority also has a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice. The highway authority may be negligent if they fail to properly grit a road to ensure safe passage. There should also be warning signs in place if necessary.
Working in unsuitable weather conditions
Employers have a general duty to take reasonable care for the safety of employees. Employers are obliged to conduct a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to employees. For example, if you work outside during the winter months, you should be given the appropriate safety equipment to go about your tasks safely or not be required to do the task/job until the weather improves.
Slipping on ice
Local authorities have a responsibility to take measures which are ‘reasonably practicable’ to ensure that roads and paths are as safe as possible. However, they do not have a duty to keep all routes completely clear of ice and snow, as this would be unreasonable. Generally speaking, the busier the street, the greater the responsibility to keep the area safe for pedestrians.
Occupiers of any premises (such as a shop or retail park) also have a duty of care to ensure they take reasonable steps to ensure visitors’ safety. They are, therefore, obliged to ensure that a walkway, path, and car park are kept clear of snow, ice, and black ice.
What can be done to avoid injuries?
As individuals, we can also take responsibility to avoid injury. Where possible, it is advisable to avoid venturing out during bad weather. If you cannot avoid going out, you should think about what you can do to minimise the risk of having an accident.
To ensure safety during these winter months, we have given the following tips:
Road Traffic Accidents
- Slow down. …
- Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you more easily.
- Don’t use rear fog lights. …
- Look out for large or fast-moving vehicles creating spray, which reduces visibility.
- Following established safe work procedures and policies.
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
- Reporting any hazards or near misses to their employer immediately.
- Participating in health and safety training and education
Slipping on ice
- Wear appropriate shoes with low heels, slip-resistant soles and shoes with good grip.
- Make sure you walk slowly and deliberately.
- Look out for slippery floors when entering a public building or shop.
- Be careful when getting in and out of vehicles.
- Try to avoid poorly lit areas. It will be difficult to spot hazards such as black ice.
We hope everyone stays as safe as possible throughout the winter season.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, suffered an injury on a public road or at the workplace through no fault of your own and would like advice on bringing a claim for personal injury please call 0808 271 9413 to speak to one of our specialist experts.