Bad weather isn’t automatically dangerous weather…
Weather conditions are arguably the one thing that can affect nearly everyone.
High winds can prevent construction workers operating at height, make simple tasks incredibly difficult or dangerous. Heavy rain, surface water and flooding can impact driving and numerous working environments. Snow and ice can affect the roads, public and private land and can make normal, everyday situations extremely hazardous.
Blaming an accident on simply bad weather is not in itself the reason why someone was injured or in the worst case, fatal. It is the actions which led to the situation where bad weather played its part, that need to be examined. Why did it happen and was this the result of someone’s negligence or an organisations failure to assess the risk properly?
Employers often argue that the primary cause of a work accident is something beyond anyone’s control, for example severe weather conditions, for which they cannot be held responsible. However that is not always the case. Employers have a general duty to take reasonable care for the safety of employees. Employers are obliged to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to employees in their undertaking.
The law is clear – if you’ve been hurt because someone else was negligent then you are entitled to damages and recover your losses. This is the key point, if it snows and you immediately slip on the pavement and hurt your arm, no one could possibly be held responsible for not ensuring the pavement was cleared immediately. No Council has the resources to do this and therefore can’t be held liable.
However, Example 1, if you are at work and they know bad weather is coming, then you should be given the appropriate safety equipment to go about your work tasks safely or not do them until the bad weather has passed.
Example 2, if someone was driving without due care for the surroundings and the weather conditions, then they are responsible, if they crash to either their passengers or anyone else hurt as a result. In both these scenarios, they failed in their duty of care - they are negligent and the injured parties are entitled to make a compensation claim.
What are the rules for working in poor weather?
The Health and Safety Executive confirms risk assessments take weather conditions into account.
Depending on your role, these risk assessments might consider the following:
Working in hot or cold temperatures – you may be entitled to have access to specialist PPE.
Working in high winds – working at height, at sea or offshore may be impacted and subject to different operating procedures.
Working in heavy rain – some occupations might see tasks postponed until the rain has stopped.
Working in snow, sleet or hail – pedestrianised areas may need cleared and treated to prevent falls and professional drivers should drive to the conditions and have winter tyres on vehicles.
Working in poor visibility (such as in the dark or during fog) – employers may either curtail operations, provide reflective or bright PPE or additional lights.
More often than not, it’s not the weather that causes accidents - but the failure to respond to it correctly.
No win no fee personal injury solicitors
The expression “No Win – No Fee” is often used in personal injury cases. It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses.
A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful.
In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.
Compensate 'no win no fee' funding
Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.
If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing.
On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer
Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.
In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.
Beware of compensation offers which may be too good
We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.
- How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
- If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
- Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
- If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
- It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
- These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.
We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value.
Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.
Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown
Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.
Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.
Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors
For further information about no win no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.
What does a bad weather compensation claim involve?
Having an injury linked to bad weather is essentially the same as other personal injury claims. Your solicitor will fully investigate the circumstances of your accident to find out what happened and why.
They will contact experts in their chosen fields whether in industry, car accident investigators, employment advisers or medical consultants to fully understand the accident and the short and long-term effects of the injuries it has caused. We must evaluate the different circumstances in which bad weather may have contributed to an accident:
A road traffic collision - we will liaise with the relevant authorities to establish all facts.
A workplace accident – we will investigate your employer to ensure all risk assessments, training and equipment were in place.
A public accident – such as, for example, being struck by falling signage in high winds, we will investigate all aspects of the owner, fitter, maker and maintainer of the sign to establish negligence.
In essence, it is our job to build a complete picture of what happened, what the injuries mean to you and how much this has cost you today and for the future.
Digby Brown proves bad weather can’t be blamed
Some employers or insurers might suggest they cannot be held accountable for adverse weather. They might claim it is too unpredictable and beyond their control.
But this is not the case.
In October 2020, solicitors from our Glasgow office won a landmark legal case that proved blaming bad weather was not an acceptable defence. Our client, AW, was the passenger in a Lochs & Glens coach tour near Loch Lomond. The coach was being driven in bad weather and the high winds forced the coach off the round and down an embankment. This resulted in dozens of passengers being injured.
Lochs & Glens argued their driver was not at fault because they couldn’t anticipate bad weather and at the first trial they were successful. But three judges overturned this ruling after we appealed and confirmed: “Buses which are driven in a safe and proper manner and at a reasonable speed do not leave carriageways of major trunk roads in winds of the relatively common velocity present at the time of this accident. Speed may have contributed to the accident, but it was the driver’s loss of control of the bus which was the ultimate operative cause.”
We also changed the legal landscape in a famous case called Kennedy v Cordia. Our client, Ms Kennedy, was a home carer who slipped on an icy sloped path while visiting an elderly patient. After taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court we successfully argued that Ms Kennedy’s employers should have provided her with appropriate PPE footwear for wintery conditions that would have minimised the risk of her falling.
These two victories do not just show our legal expertise – it proves the law supports your right to seek recognition and recompense for your injuries and losses, even when bad weather is involved.
If you have been injured as a result of an incident in which bad weather has been a factor, please contact our Legal enquiry team to see if we can help. After all we can’t escape bad weather in Scotland - we have to deal with it as best as we can!
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