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Published On: March 14, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

Personal injury claims and adverse weather conditions

As a result of Storm Eunice, on Friday 18th February 2022, most of the UK was placed on a Red Weather Warning, indicating a significant danger to life as extremely strong winds provided the potential for, amongst other things, damage to structures and flying debris.

There is a common misconception that if you are injured as a result of bad weather conditions, then it is an “Act of God” and you are unable to pursue a claim for damages. This is not always the case, but of course, this depends on the individual circumstances.

The law is clear that, if you’ve been hurt because someone else was negligent then you are entitled to damages and to recover your losses.

To establish negligence for personal injury sustained as a result of bad weather conditions, the main things to consider are:

  • Did all those involved act appropriately?
  • Were precautions taken in a timely manner?
  • Did the person or organisation against whom a claim is contemplated fulfil their legal obligations?

There are of course many causes of personal injury resulting from adverse weather conditions, but three of the main ones are considered below.

Being hit by flying debris

During high winds there is a risk of flying debris causing injury. If there is an advanced warning of serious weather threats, then individuals and/or local authorities will have a duty to ensure that all items on their property are secured, especially if bad weather conditions are expected. If they have a “reasonable time to act” and fail to do so, and this results in personal injury, they may be negligent. If they can show that they took reasonable steps to secure items on their property, then they are likely to have a defence to any action brought against them.

Working in unsuitable weather conditions

Employers have a general duty to take reasonable care for the safety of their employees and to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks. For example, an employee should not be required to climb a ladder outdoors if there are high winds. If you are made to work in unsafe weather conditions and you suffer an accident as a result, then there is a potential to claim for damages.

Road traffic accidents

Road traffic accidents can be caused by several reasons. Factors that can contribute to road traffic accidents in bad weather conditions are:

  • Visibility
  • Poor road conditions
  • Snow/ice
  • Other motorists’ behaviour
  • Roadside debris

Under Section 41 of the Highways Act 1980, there is a duty on the highways authority to ensure, as far is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along the highway is not endangered by snow or ice. If there are advanced weather warnings of snow and/or ice, then the highways authority may be negligent if they fail to properly grit a road to ensure safe passage.

Motorists have a duty of care to all other road users. This means that you are obliged to take reasonable care to ensure any action you take, or any action you fail to take, does not cause injury to another road user. For example, in adverse weather conditions, if visibility is poor, or a road is badly flooded, then a sensible driver would either avoid the area if possible or proceed with extra care. Those who simply proceed at normal speeds, causing accident and injury, would have limited scope to claim that the weather was responsible.

When establishing whether you will be successful in bringing a claim for personal injury caused by bad weather conditions, you will also need to consider contributory negligence if you have knowingly put yourself at risk. If you are aware of adverse weather conditions, especially if the Government has issued a bad weather warning, then those who venture out may do so at their own risk. You may therefore struggle to prove full liability for any injury sustained.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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