Winter accidents - part 3 - highways claims

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Many people who slip over and injure themselves on ice on a pavement believe they have no possible redress. Whilst this is sometimes the case, in some circumstances claims can successfully be pursued against local councils or highway authorities in respect of the state of the roads and pavements.

Under the Highways Act, the relevant authority has a responsibility to ensure that the highways are maintained adequately and, in particular, that safe passage is far as possible not endangered by snow or ice.

When considering accidents that occur in these circumstances, a Court will look at whether the authority had in place reasonable policies for gritting, or snow / ice removal, and whether the policy was properly implemented.

The Courts have previously made it clear that it is impossible to eliminate all risks posed by ice or snow. However, in cases where there has been no winter weather policy in place at all, or where the policy was not properly followed, then injuries which have occurred may give rise to a claim.

James Braund, solicitor at Trethowans LLP specialising in personal injury and clinical negligence claims, states that “claims against the Highways Agency or local councils in respect of injuries suffered whilst slipping on ice on a highway are often complex. It is necessary to examine whether preventative steps were taken to reduce the risk of injury, and whether such steps were reasonable in the circumstances. It is important that potential claimants seek specialist legal advice to see if they may have a claim”.