Wintery conditions have been spelling misery for thousands as they battle snow and ice just to get out of the house.
Clearing away snow and ice from doorsteps, drives and pavements is an annual trial but many homeowners have been reluctant to do it recently in case they get slapped with a personal injury claim if somebody slips or falls on the ice.
However, Eamon Sexton, a personal injury solicitor in Merseyside has reassured the public that this is highly unlikely to happen. After the big freeze in January 2010, the Department of Transport published guidelines that imply householders would not be liable as long as they follow government advice.
The guidelines can be read in full on the Government website, www.direct.gov.uk, but in a nutshell they advise the public to spread sand or salt on paths to help keep them clear and on no account should hot water be used as this can freeze and cause black ice. If somebody were to slip on the resultant black ice, that could be classed as contributory negligence and lead to the guilty party having to pay out personal injury compensation to the victim.
Jeremy Bradshaw, another personal injury lawyer, advises businesses to avoid claims from employees by ensuring car parks and pathways are clear of ice. He also reminded companies that polished floors inside buildings, especially around entrance doors, can become slippery when wet and extra care should be taken in such areas to prevent accidents occurring.