Winter months see an increase in slip, trip and fall incidents

Weather conditions throughout the autumn and winter period mean an inevitable increase in trips, slips and falls. Snow may settle on pavements and busy areas in the run up to Christmas, and wet leaves and surfaces can cause layers of ice to form.

A&E departments, which are already busier at this time of year, see an increase in weather related incidents. The year 2012/13 saw 7,031 hospital admissions for snow and ice related falling incidents.

Accidents can occur in busy shopping areas during poor weather conditions. The guidelines regarding shops and supermarkets are fairly straightforward, and the company may be liable if the accident occurs in the shop, car park or anywhere on their premises. You may have a successful claim if the accident is considered to have been ‘reasonably foreseeable’, and reasonable measures (gritting, clearing snow, giving warning signs) were not taken by the business owner.

An employer also has a duty of care to its staff to ensure that work entrances are safe, and to avoid preventable injuries when arriving at and leaving work. Reasonable measures must be taken to ensure that walkways, car parks and outdoor areas have been made safe, and they should be gritted to prevent ice from forming in cold weather.

It may be harder to claim for accidents that take place in outdoor areas under the control of local councils and authorities, as the council’s duty of care does not require that all pavements have been fully cleared of snow and gritted.

Delivery staff, postmen, or visitors to private property may experience slips whilst working, but accidents that take place on private property are also less straightforward. The occupier of the property could be found personally liable however, if they fail to take reasonable measures where conditions are poor.

It is important to look out for friends and neighbours who are vulnerable or may need help during the winter, like older or disabled people. The consequences of a fall may be more serious for older people, and they are particularly at risk of having an accident in the winter. Shopping or running errands for vulnerable people will mean that they do not have to leave their house during adverse weather conditions and unnecessarily risk having an accident.

It may not be the first thing on your mind, particularly if you are badly injured or in a busy area, but it is important to take a photograph of the poor weather conditions in the place that you fell. Enlist someone else to help you do this if possible, as having a dated photograph to prove that the location was unsafe will improve your chances of having a successful claim.

James Pritchard, Specialist Personal Injury Solicitor at Macks comments “With cold weather already starting to set in and mentions of “the coldest winter since…” starting to do the rounds now is the time to get prepared. Make sure you have supplies to clear snow, get your car checked for winter, service your central heating. Be ready in case a harsh winter hits.”


Source: RoSPA – Winter Safety

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