Winter bad weather accidents – who is to blame?
Adverse winter weather conditions increase the risk of accidents for road users and pedestrians alike. There’s much to be mindful of when venturing out and about as the nights draw in and the temperatures plummet. Read on to learn more about the common causes of bad weather accidents.
What are the common accidents caused by bad winter weather?
With the winter comes snow, ice, and fog – leading to frozen, slippery surfaces and poor visibility. Wintery conditions can make journeys increasingly difficult, whether you’re on the road or on foot, and can lead to accidents and injuries.
Freezing temperatures also pose a risk in the workplace, especially for those working outside for extended periods of time.
Heavy downpours leading to localised or regional flooding can also be a hazard – particularly for road users who can be at risk of aquaplaning.
The most common accidents caused by bad weather are:
- Slips, trips and falls – often a result of a change in surface conditions.
- Road collisions – motorists driving in wintery conditions are at a higher risk of having an accident, with the weather altering vision and a vehicle’s grip on the roads.
- Working in cold conditions - accidents as a result of low temperatures, such as numbness or cold-intolerance.
How many accidents are caused by bad weather?
A drop in temperature can lead to serious incidents, and even fatalities for both drivers and pedestrians.
According to the Department for Transport, 29 people were killed, 251 seriously injured, and 2,274 slightly injured in reported accidents on Britain’s roads in 2014 because of snow or ice.
Who is at fault for my bad weather accident?
With bad weather accidents, it can be difficult to determine if your incident was just an unfortunate ‘act of god’ or the fault of another.
You can look after yourself and help to prevent injuries by keeping the following points in mind:
- If you are out walking, wear sensible footwear with plenty of grip. If at work, your workplace doesn’t allow such shoes, change into your work wear once you have reached your destination.
- Allow plenty of time for your journey. If you are rushing, either on foot, on a bike or in a vehicle, you are more likely to be unsteady or to make mistakes, so give yourself time to travel to your destination, factoring in the weather conditions.
- Be mindful that floors and doorways inside buildings can also become hazardous, particularly when excess water is brought in on shoes and clothes as people enter the building.
However, there are certain safety measures which should be put in place, both by employers and councils, to prevent injuries:
- Grit: In the case of snow and ice, councils should have in place a system for the gritting of roads and pavements in order to prevent collisions, slips, trips and falls. If you are involved in an accident on a road or slip on the pavement, you must check with your local council to see if the gritting operation was working properly. If your slip was at work, your employers should have gritted walkways or roads that they have control over.
- Lighting: With prolonged periods of dark, there should be enough lighting for you in your workplace to prevent slips, trips and falls. If you cannot see any potential hazards on the floor, then you are working in unsafe conditions.
- Risk Assessments: Employers have a responsibility to carry out risk assessments and must have suitable systems in place to prevent staff or members of the public becoming injured as a result of poor health and safety. This includes cleaning up excess water inside buildings caused by adverse weather conditions and using signage to warn of slippery surfaces.
- Temperatures: If you work in cold conditions, your employer has a responsibility to provide you with suitable protective equipment including boots, socks and gloves. Workers should also have frequent breaks from the cold weather, and be educated on the symptoms of cold-weather related injuries.
Can I make a claim for my bad weather accident?
If you believe that your accident was caused by the negligence of your employer or council, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
At Thompsons, we have experience working on a range of personal injury claims, including those caused by bad weather – one of the most common we deal with is cold injury claims for service personnel who have been exposed to prolonged freezing and wet conditions without being provided with the necessary protective equipment.
For more guidance on claiming for an accident caused by bad weather, please click below.