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Accidents on ice or snow on paths and roads

We have had a number of enquiries to our office from clients asking "Who is responsible if they are injured if they have an accident on an icy road or footpath?".

 

Legal responsibility depends on whether the icy area in which the accident happened is a public place owned by the local council or in a public place privately owned by a business (such as a shopping centre footpath or pub car park etc).

 

Regarding the responsibility of the council – a local authority is not responsible for acts of “non-feasance” – that is simple inaction by the council where it does nothing. Councils that do not grit footpaths or roads can therefore avoid responsibility for injury which is effectively caused by their neglect. The position is slightly less clear where a council does grit an area but doesn’t do it properly. This is an act of mis-feasance for which the council may be responsible if an accident happens.

 

In relation to other public areas, if a property owner sees that there is a danger (obvious if people are walking on icy footpaths around (say) a shopping centre) the owners, as occupiers are obliged to take reasonable steps to make the area safe. This does not mean that the owners must start gritting or clearing snow during a blizzard but they must take steps to make the area safe as soon as is reasonably possible after the snow fall or overnight freeze. If they do not and a customer slips and falls breaking a bone then the owners may be legally responsible. The normal rules of Occupiers’ Liability apply.

 

For further information, please contact Brian O'Reilly Solicitor* at (01)4525211 or email bporeilly@bporco.ie

 

*Brian O'Reilly Solicitor is Senior Partner at B.P.O'Reilly & Co Solicitors and is moderator of "The Legal Column" on NewsTalk106-108FM Radio.

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B.P.O’REILLY & COMPANY SOLICITORS & NOTARIES ARE LAWYERS BASED IN DUBLIN IRELAND SPECIALISING IN LEGAL AND NOTARY SERVICES FOR BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS WHO NEED ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION IN LOCAL, NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL CASES.

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