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Do Personal Injury Claims Increase During The Winter Months?

Carl Waring

Carl Waring

|  20th January 2022  |

accident in the snow

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Most personal injury solicitors will tell you there is a rise in personal injury claims in Winter.

Road Traffic Accidents in Winter

Road traffic accidents are the type of accident most commonly associated with bad weather conditions.

Why is this?

  • Freezing temperatures lead to frost, ice, slippery roads, paths, and pavements.
  • There are fewer hours of daylight, meaning that journeys to work are done in the dark.
  • Inadequate street lighting
  • Poor visibility caused by rain, snow, sleet, or fog

It’s not surprising to read that there are, on average, 20% more road traffic accidents during the winter months than at any other time of the year.

To bring a successful road traffic accident personal injury claim, it’s necessary to prove negligence on the part of the road user who you say caused the accident and who is responsible for your injuries.

Bad weather is a factor in many road accidents in the Winter. There are some accidents on slippery, icy, or snow-covered roads where it is hard to say anyone involved in an accident was to blame. However, road users owe each other a duty of care. So, if the weather is terrible, there is a duty on drivers to:

  • slow down to take account of the conditions,
  • keep a safer distance than normal
  • Be alert for black ice on the road
  • Turn on fog lights pump brakes after driving through large puddles or flooding
  • Check the state of their tyres if setting off in bad weather

Road users owe each other a duty of care. Poor weather conditions will not be a defence to negligent driving. An accident caused by a motorist whose driving is of a standard below that of a reasonably competent motorist can expect to face a claim for compensation if another road user is injured as a result of his carelessness.

Road accidents in bad weather don’t always feature collisions between cars, vans, and lorries. Winter weather also poses a significant hazard to:

  • Cyclists and motorcyclists:- as well as the ever-present danger of coming into contact with motorists, they face the added hazard of riding on icy roads and losing control of their bikes, particularly on highways that aren’t gritted.
  • Pedestrians:- one of the main dangers to pedestrians in lousy weather comes from slips or trips on icy pavements or crossing slippery roads.

Whiplash injuries, head or brain injuries, broken bones and spinal injuries are all too common features of road accidents in bad weather.

Accidents at Work in Bad Weathericy pavement

Whilst accident at work claims do not rise in number in Winter to the same extent as road traffic accidents do (or, for that matter, as public liability accidents do, too), bad weather still poses a problem for employers.

An employer has a duty to ensure his employees have a safe environment within which to work.

The most common types of accidents at work in winter weather are:

  • Falls from height, such as from slippery scaffolding or ladders
  • Slips and trips in icy or wet factory yards or car parks
  • Slipping on wet indoor floors where ice and snow has been brought indoors on footwear and by vehicles such as forklifts and dumper trucks
  • Road Traffic Accidents involving company vehicles and/or drivers.

The occupations where workers are more at risk in adverse weather include:

  • Construction workers
  • Drivers and colleagues in emergency services vehicles
  • Agriculture workers
  • Fishermen
  • Council and highway workers involved in snow and ice removal and drivers of gritting lorries.

There is a wealth of Health and Safety Legislation (HSE) covering health and safety in the workplace. Some of the legislation imposes general duties on employers, and some are more industry-specific.

Accidents in Public Places during Winter Months

When we talk of accidents in public places, what is meant by the term ‘public places’? A helpful definition of the term is contained in S9 of the Public Order Act 1936, which states:

“Public place” includes any highway ……. and any other premises or place to which at the material time the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise.”

So, accidents in public places that could have as a contributory factor, winter weather such as ice, freezing temperatures and heavy rain, include slip and trip accidents, in or on:

  • pavements
  • roads
  • public paths
  • entrances to shopping malls
  • shopping malls (where snow and ice have been brought inside on shoppers footwear
  • restaurants
  • shops
  • car parks
  • public playgrounds

Sprained and broken ankles, wrists, and arms; bad backs, whiplash injuries and head injuries are just some of the more common injuries caused by falling after a trip or slip, on surfaces made slippery by winter weather conditions.

Have I got a possible personal injury compensation claim if I am hurt by a fall in slippery conditions in a public place and if so, who do I claim against?

The answer is you would have a possible claim against whoever is responsible for maintaining the surface you fell on.

Public roads, pavements, parks, playgrounds and paths are, variously, the responsibility of the local authority or the Highways Authority to maintain.

In the case of shopping malls, shops, restaurants, cafes and the like, the owners are responsible for keeping the floors and surfaces free from weather hazards that could cause visitors to their premises to slip and fall.

Can I expect to win a compensation claim for an accident caused by bad weather?

There is no automatic right to compensation from bad weather accidents – even slips and trip accidents. Whether you are successful or not will depend on the particular circumstances of the accident.

In the case of road traffic accident collisions where inclement weather is a factor, there must still be provable negligence on the part of the driver alleged to be the cause of the accident.

For a workplace accident claim to be successfully brought by an employee injured in an accident where the weather is deemed to have played a part, it must be proved the employer has breached his duty of care to keep the injured employee safe.

Although injury claims from accidents in public places caused by slipping on icy surfaces sound like open and shut cases, they aren’t always.

If you have been injured in an accident in bad weather conditions, call an experienced personal injury solicitor for legal advice. Not all winter weather accident claims are straightforward.

At  Mooneerams solicitors we are personal injury specialists. Call us for free initial advice on 029 2048 3615. Alternatively, leave your contact details in the form on the right-hand side of this page and press the ‘Start Your Claim’ button. (Don’t worry, you aren’t committing yourself to anything by doing this!)

We’ll call you back at a time convenient to you to chat about your possible claim. If you like what you hear and we think your claim has reasonable prospects of success, we’ll be happy to take your claim on for you.

Mooneerams handle most personal injury claims on a No Win No Fee basis.

Watch Our Video: Do Personal Injury Claims Increase During The Winter Months?

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