Slipping On Ice Accidents

It is that time of the year again when there is a risk of suffering an accident caused by slipping on ice on footpaths, steps, car parks and roads.

People can unfortunately suffer permanent injuries to their wrists, backs, hips or ankles caused by falling awkwardly due to slipping on ice.

Good housekeeping is the most important way of preventing accidents caused by slipping on ice. A business owner or manager of a shop or workplace should have a winter safety programme that will have an action plan for dealing with winter hazards such as snow and ice.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 places a legal duty on the owners of a shop or business premises to take care to see that visitors will be reasonably safe. The law does not require the owner of a shop or business premises to guarantee the safety of people visiting the premises, however the owner is expected to take reasonable steps to provide safe premises.

Therefore, the shop or business owner’s winter safety programme should ensure that a person is given the task of being the “weather monitor,” paying attention to the weather forecasts and checking for snow or ice forecasts. The shop or business premises will then be ready to deal with snow removal and have in place an ice melt programme when adverse weather conditions occur.

People will be able to make personal injury compensation claims against the shop or business premises if they suffer an accident due to slipping on ice because the shop failed to have safety measures to prevent customers suffering slipping accidents.

If a person who works in the shop or business premises suffers an accident caused by slipping on ice, they will also be able to make a compensation claim unless the business owner can show that it was not reasonably practicable to keep the place where the accident happened free from ice.

An example of this is the compensation claim of Mr Stephen McKeown who worked as a school janitor for the council. Mr McKeown slipped on an ice covered step outside a school classroom and fell sustaining injury to his lower back. The court decided that the council was liable to pay compensation to Mr McKeown because although the council had a safety programme for dealing with snow and ice at the school, it had failed to properly implement the safety measures. The court said that the council had failed to put into action its safety measures and, for instance, the employees who had to carry out the work of spreading rock salt in the school yard had not actually been given any training or instructions in carrying out the safety action.

The Court of Session’s decision in Stephen McKeown v Inverclyde Council

Speeding Causes Road Accidents

It is widely accepted that driving your car at an inappropriate speed is at the core of the road safety problem. When driving at a higher speed it is more difficult to react in time to prevent an accident happening.

A large number of road traffic accidents, probably more than 50% of accidents, occur at road junctions and some junctions are well-known accident hotspots.

However, temporary traffic or road conditions, possibly caused by the weather or a sports event, may result in accidents if people drive at an inappropriate speed for the conditions.

An example of this is the unfortunate accident suffered by Mr Burton whilst he was out riding his motorbike on a Boxing Day afternoon. Mr Burton was travelling on a busy A road that had a 60 mph speed limit. Further along the A road Mr Evitt was driving his car and had reduced his speed because he was going to turn right into the car park of a public house.

Mr Evitt decided to wait for a car to travel out of the car park entrance before he began to turn off the road into the car park and therefore stopped his car. A queue of 4 or 5 cars soon built up behind Mr Evitt’s car, including a large 4×4 car that was immediately behind his car. The effect of the large 4×4 car behind Mr Evitt’s car was that it partly blocked the view from Mr Evitt’s door mirror when he tried to look back down the road, creating a small blind spot.

At the moment when Mr Evitt turned right Mr Burton had already begun overtaking the queue of cars behind Mr Evitt. Due to the large 4×4 car blocking his view, Mr Burton did not see Mr Evitt’s car until the last moment and could not avoid crashing into Mr Evitt’s car that had begun the manoeuvre to turn into the car park.

The Court of Appeal decided that Mr Burton was 80% responsible for the accident because he was travelling too fast for the road conditions. The speed limit for the road was 60 mph, however Mr Burton should have reduced his speed when he saw the queue of slow moving cars behind Mr Evitt. Mr Burton was travelling at about 45 mph and should have reduced his speed even more before he began overtaking the cars because he was riding too fast to be able to deal with an emergency situation, such as a car in the queue suddenly turning right.

It was decided by the Court of Appeal that Mr Evitt was 20% responsible for the accident because he could not properly see whether there was a motorbike approaching due to the large 4×4 car behind him and therefore should have exercised more care when attempting the manoeuvre to turn right.

The Court of Appeal’s decision in Burton v Evitt