Anyone who owns or operates a public space has a duty to ensure people using it are reasonably safe from harm, and when it comes to roads and pavements likely to be affected by ice or snow, this means doing everything reasonably practicable to avoid someone being injured.
Where there is a failure to do this and you are hurt as a result, then it may be possible for you to make a no win, no fee claim for personal injury compensation.
Abid Hussain, a public injury specialist with Step Legal Solicitors, explains more in this question and answer article.
In What Circumstances can a Claim be made?
A claim can usually be made where the following three criteria can be satisfied:
- you have been on a public road or pavement, or a private road or pavement as an invited guest – e.g. of a hotel you have been staying at or a restaurant you have been dining with – and you have slipped, tripped or fallen;
- as a result of the slip, trip or fall you have injured yourself; and
- this is down to the person responsible for maintaining the road or pavement concerned not doing all that could reasonably be expected of them to ensure that it was safe to use, for example by gritting it with appropriate frequency and/or displaying warning signs.
What Types of Claim do you deal with?
Most of the claims we deal with are in respect of injuries which have occurred on roads or pavements maintained by local councils, who have a clearly defined legal duty to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable – bearing in mind financial, logistical and manpower constraints – any ice or snow which settles on these areas does not pose a danger to members of the travelling public.
The phrase ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ is key, as it affords the council a shot at defending a claim where they can show that treatment of the area in question was not appropriate, for example because it is only ever used by a few people and it was therefore right that the council concentrate its resources on major thoroughfares instead, such as motorways, main roads, town centre high streets and routes into and out of local schools.
We also deal with ice and snow slipping claims against employers following an accident at work, as well as claims against shops and supermarkets who have failed to keep customer entrance and exit ways safe.
What Types of Injuries do you usually see?
Given that accidents caused by ice and snow can result in a range of injuries depending on the circumstances and whether you have had a chance to put your hands out to break your fall, we see and make claims for a variety of things, including:
- cuts and bruises;
- strains and sprains;
- fractures and broken bones;
- head, neck and back injuries;
- wrist, elbow and arm injuries;
- ankle, knee and leg injuries;
- whiplash injuries; and
- psychological trauma.
We also regularly deal with injuries that have resulted in death where a claim for compensation is being pursued by a relative.
How much Compensation am I likely to receive?
The amount of compensation you receive will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of your injury and the impact it has had on your life, both from a financial and contentment point of view.
For example, a minor injury causing nothing more than temporary pain and discomfort might lead to a payout of a few thousand pounds, whereas a life-changing injury triggering depression and which lands you in financial dire straits could see you receiving tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Depending on the circumstances, we can help you to claim compensation for:
- your physical and psychological pain and suffering;
- the impact your injury has had on the quality of your life and ability to enjoy yourself;
- any out of pocket expenses you have incurred, such as prescription charges or travelling costs;
- any loss of earnings or pension entitlement;
- the cost of any equipment you have had to buy or will need to source in order to aid your recovery; and
- the cost of providing you with any ongoing medical or healthcare treatment you may require.
Are there are Time Limits I need to be aware of?
You will usually have three years from the date on which your slip, trip or fall occurred to make a claim, although a longer period will apply where you were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident or where you are making a claim on behalf of a child or relative who has since died.
A longer time limit may also apply where you have been suffering from a mental or physical health condition that has made it impossible for you to claim during the standard three year period.
Who will deal with my case – a Solicitor, a Paralegal or a Legal Assistant?
All public injury cases referred to Step Legal Solicitors will be dealt with by a solicitor. This is an important thing to bear in mind, as not all personal injury firms use solicitors to manage their personal injury claims. This is why you should always check who will be responsible for the day to day conduct of your case before you decide which firm to instruct.
In simple terms, a personal injury solicitor is a qualified legal expert who will have undergone an extensive period of legal training in order to be able to advise you on your rights and to support you through the making of a legal claim from start to finish, no matter how complex or challenging the case may be and irrespective of the amount of compensation sought.
This is in contrast to personal injury paralegals and legal assistants, who tend to be unqualified advisors who have a basic understanding of the law in a narrow area and who tend to only deal with what are perceived to be straightforward, low value claims which can be managed through a computerised case management system and referred to a solicitor if matters become complicated.
You may also encounter claims management companies. These, again, tend to be staffed by legally unqualified staff who work by contacting personal injury victims and then referring them on to a solicitor in return for an agreed fee, paid for by the receiving law firm.
How do I find out more?
It will cost you nothing to find out if a claim may be possible and, if it is, we can normally advise you on a no win, no fee basis, which means that there will be no charge for our services if your case is unsuccessful.