People should help their fellow citizens this winter without fear of being sued, say lawyers as the Met Office issues severe weather warnings for snow and ice across parts of Britain this week.
“There is a myth that if you clear a path or driveway of snow and someone then falls and is injured, that you could be sued for compensation, when you were only trying to help,” said Neil Sugarman, president of not-for-profit group for injured people the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
“In reality, you would have to do something negligent and make a situation dangerous for the chance of you being sued to even become a possibility. An example would be pouring warm water on a path to melt the snow which then refreezes to create a sheet of ice. If someone was injured, they would have to find the proof that you have been negligent. In any event, it’s certainly foolish and could cause unnecessary harm to someone,” he explained. “You need care and common sense.
“It is a real shame that community spirit or acts of kindness could be hampered by what seems to be a baseless rumour which has got out of hand.”
“The myth about clearing snow is the tip of the iceberg. There are many assumptions and misunderstandings about injury compensation which we’d like to dispel, such as that off-duty doctors shouldn’t give medical care in case anything goes wrong and they are sued. The truth is that most doctors are fully aware of the law and understand that only proven negligence can result in a successful personal injury claim.
“Grab a shovel and help each other this winter, but don’t forget your common sense,” he said.