Can you be sued for clearing the snow from your property or business?

12th February 2021

Can you be sued for clearing the snow from your property or business?

Hugh was on BBC Radio Suffolk this morning talking to Mark Murphy about whether or not people put themselves at risk of being sued if they clear the pavement outside their house or business.

It is a topic of discussion which comes up each year when it snows. Back in the day, people would not of thought twice about clearing a path and pitching into help. However, in our modern society, and with what some see as a prevalent compensation culture, a lot of people are concerned that they will be liable if someone is injured as a result of their actions.

Hugh explained to Mark that, people are not under a duty to clear public paths outside their home or shop, and the truth is that if they do chose to clear a public path, and they don’t do it well, and someone hurts themselves, then they could potentially be liable if the injured person chooses to sue them.

Hugh also went on the speak about the duty we owe to people coming onto our properties, such as the postman or delivery driver walking up your drive. When it comes to private land that you occupy, you are under a duty to  take reasonable steps to ensure that your visitors are safe. So do you clear the snow or do you leave it for fear that you might make a worse icy hazard?

In Hugh’s words, if you do clear it, then you have got to make sure that you do it well and that you maintain it. Because, if you make it more dangerous than it was before then you will be creating a hazard and you may be liable if someone hurts themselves as a result.

Overall, people should not be discouraged from clearing snow and assisting others. However, they should ensure they do it correctly to avoid increasing the risk of injury to others and liability for themselves. The government have guidance on their website, encouraging people to clear paths if they need clearing, and providing suggestions on how to do it correctly: https://www.gov.uk/clear-snow-road-path-cycleway

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