Christmas may be over, but judging by the UK weather forecast, which predicts bouts of ‘thundersnow’ and an arctic spell of colder weather; it’s quite clear that winter isn’t ready to leave us just yet.

Whilst local roads and railways lines will be hard hit by the potential bitter conditions, it is important to remember that ice and snow can also be perilous to pedestrians when reasonable precautions haven’t been made. Read on to make sure you know where you stand this cold January.

Who is responsible for a slip or fall on an icy public pavement?

As snow falls and frost forms, pavements can become extremely treacherous, making slips and falls inevitable in the winter months. It is the responsibility of the local authorities to see that they remain safe; ensuring that reasonable steps are taken to ensure the area is not endangered by snow or ice, with the expectation that walkways are gritted, or in severe conditions ploughed, so long as the budget will allow.

However, it is impossible for local authorities to make every footpath under its jurisdiction safe as soon as snow or ice forms, so it’s important to consider the timeframe when deciding whether to make a compensation claim.

What about public liability compensation claims?

Landlords, business owners and homeowners also have a responsibility to minimise the risk of accidents on their property in icy conditions. For example, if you were to slip at a shop door, this would take the form of a public liability compensation claim against the owner of the shop. The occupier would be required to pay damages and legal fees to the person who is injured, so long as it can be proved that they failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that walkways were free from hazardous snow and ice.

The law doesn’t necessarily require a property owner to remove ice or snow that accumulates as a result of the weather, but if conditions are extreme as a result of poor drainage or inadequate paving they may find themselves liable.

How can you make sure your property is kept safe? 

The government has a clear set of guidelines for clearing snow and ice from private property, advising land owners to:


  • Clear snow and ice early in the day
  • Avoid using water which will only refreeze
  • Use salt if available to prevent ice returning overnight


If occupiers don’t effectively reduce the risk of slips and falls when they have a duty of care, they may still find themselves liable if a claim were to be pursued.


A fall of this kind can be a serious matter, leading to severe bruising, whiplash, or broken bones which can incur pain, expense and inconvenience to those affected, particularly the elderly. All of these factors would be considered, so long as a compensation claim was made within a significant time from the date of the accident.


If you, or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury, call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0191 232 3048 today.

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