As the approaching colder weather means the possibility of ice and even snow across Sussex, personal injury lawyers have reassured homeowners that they can clear paths and driveways of snow or ice without fear of being sued.
“Every single winter someone somewhere stirs the myth that Good Samaritans shouldn’t be helpful and clear snow because they will be sued if someone then falls and is injured. It’s absurd,” said solicitor John Spencer, president of not-for-profit group the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) which campaigns on behalf of injured people.
“Excuse the pun, but let’s clear this up right now,” said John. “There is a distinct difference between a simple accident and negligence which causes an injury when it comes to making a legal claim.
“Whoever clears the snow or ice would have to be negligent to be liable for someone else’s injury,” he went on.
“For example, using hot water to melt snow which is then going to re-freeze and create a dangerous sheet of ice would be negligent, as well as foolish. Some salt or sand and a shovel will do the job safely. Use your commonsense and no-one will get hurt.”
John added that a Bill approved last week by the House of Lords which aims to remove the fear of being sued for people performing helpful acts “hits the wrong mark”.
He said: “This myth about clearing paths is a perfect example of why the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill hits the wrong mark. The law is fine, but it is public understanding which isn’t right and which could prevent Good Samaritans from acting to help others. Education, not legislation, is the way to deal with misconceptions.”