During the winter, when snow and ice cover the ground, the number of accidents and injuries caused by slipping and falling skyrockets. While pavements are the responsibility of the council, slipping on an icy path doesn’t mean that you can claim compensation for personal injury, as councils are not normally deemed liable, except in a few specific circumstances.
While councils have a legal obligation to ensure all pavements and paths are safe to walk on, this does not mean they are responsible for injuries caused by ice and snow. Ice, by its very nature, is slippery, which means that anybody walking on an icy path will be aware that it represents a slipping hazard. In addition, councils do not have the resources or ability to clear the snow and ice from every pathway or path, and the law accepts this, which means that if you happen to slip on an icy path, you can’t make a claim against the council.
While the council rarely grits pathways and paths, homeowners and businesses often do. While ice and snow are natural occurrences and represent an obvious slipping hazard meaning that you can’t claim for damages if you slip over on somebody’s path or driveway, you can still claim if that person or business has interfered with the path in anyway, such as putting down grit. Some businesses and homeowners grit the pavement outside their house, which may seem like a good idea, but if a path has been gritted or partially cleared, it may lead you to think that it is not slippery so you may not regard it as a hazard. This means that if you slip on a partially cleared or gritted path, you can make a claim for damages against the person who cleared the path or put the grit down.
If you do slip on ice or snow and are unsure whether or not you can make a claim, it is best to speak to a personal injury solicitor, who may advise you if you have a case. While it is unlikely that you can hold the council to account for an icy path, the law can vary in certain circumstances and there may be the possibility that you are eligible for compensation.