We shouldn't face being sued!

My Aunt Hettie is not going out of her flat during this period. She broke a hip last year, is 90 years old – and very sensibly she is holed up for the duration.

But most of us have to go out. Most of us understand that when it snows it can be dangerous and slippery and we may well fall over.

I want us to be like Canada or the USA where we all clear the snow from the space in front of our own dwellings. But according to the Law Society (and the debate at Question Time in the Lords and various article) we may risk being sued if we do and someone falls over on our patch. If we don’t they can sue us – rather than the Council. (The Council has a duty of care towards its residents).

I would say to the Law Society et al – if they think that creating a litigious atmosphere by their pronouncements is helpful – then they should hang their heads in shame. People should feel free and encouraged to do their community bit by clearing snow away. They shouldn’t be inhibited or quashed by being warned off. And if there is legal doubt – then they are the body that should be campaigning to ensure that the law or its consequences does not stop people clearing their frontages. Bloody ridiculous!

Firstly, if I fell over because a bit of ice had formed in a bit of pavement where my neighbour had cleared their frontage – my first thought would not be I must sue them. I would regard as an accident. Not everything is someone’s fault – particularly if the motive was to improve the situation. And given Haringey’s hands off policy towards side roads – I would like to see a community snow plan for every side road where local people can clear their own frontage with grit supplied to the road by the Council – without fearing litigation.

This is just a world gone mad! I’ve cleared the snow off my front steps so that visitors and the postman won’t slip on them. I await a lawsuit!

UPDATE: Thinking further – am going to take this up with Minister of Justice – to see how many cases there have been!

0 thoughts on “We shouldn't face being sued!

  1. Not quite true. According to the Beeb:

    “You owe visitors a duty under the Occupiers Liability Act 1984 to take reasonable care to ensure that they are reasonably safe. So if you know someone is likely to walk up your garden path, like the milkman, and you know it’s slippery, you must take reasonable steps to clear it and grit it if necessary.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8443745.stm

  2. I whole heartedly agree. It’s not in London though. I’ve spent several hours clearing snow from my cul-de-sac to stop it being an ice-rink, to enable cars to get in and out and to help the elderly residents who might need to get out and about.

    I can mildly understand how badly clearing the snow could lead to an accident, but anyone with an ounce of common sense knows it is icy everywhere and should expect it.

  3. When I was a child (50+ years ago!) it was normal for the kids to be sent out to clear snow and ice from their own paths and from those of elderly neighbours. The pavements were usually cleared by unemployed men, who could be sent out on this task every winter. But, as you say, people could have accidents in those days without looking to sue someone.

  4. Perhaps start by looking at the continual television advertising encouraging people to sue – at no risk to themselves – in respect of things we used to take as part of life’s rich tapestry of mishaps.

  5. Interesting. Lynne – what would the Lib Dem’s do to improve our country’s preparedness in the wake of another cold snap like this one?
    http://i-remain-to-be-convinced.blogspot.com/

    On a more serious note – surely were you sued, you might look at the injured party’s footwear and ask – are they wearing suitable clobber for the weather? i.e. ice crampons?

    just a thought

  6. We ought to have the Good Samaritan Act as described by Jock, but the difference between attitudes here and those in the USA is something I have puzzled over ever since I first visited the USA (almost 40 years ago). They have much more of a ‘get on with it’ attitude than we do here, aka the pioneering spirit. Perhaps that is why so many Europeans who wanted to succeed emigrated over there (including some distant relatives of mine, who successfully went farming in the mid west in 1831).

  7. when I was young we used to love playtimes at school in icy weather, we had snowmen in the playground and ice slides. Now they close schools in case a child slips and they get sued. I reckon the world is mad. Lawyers are to blame for encouraging litigation. An accident is just that. And accidents just happen. About time common sense returned.

  8. Well said Lynne. As a child in the 50’s all residents and local shopkeepers in Hornsey High Street cleared their paths and front pavements so that the council had little to do. It also meant dust carts could carry on doing their job instead of leaving us with no collections “because the side roads are too dangerous”. Why did this cease? People should take some personal responsibility. I clear my house front and steps whilst no one else does – so tehy use my steps!

  9. I am fed up with the growing litigious culture, encouraged by the “No win, no fee” adverts. It is motivated by pure greed. The thinking seems to be not “I’ve tripped, silly me, get up and carry on, it was an accident” but “I’ve tripped, who can i blame? Who can i extort money from”? It makes me sick. I live in a terraced house and have litigious neighbours on both sides, both ex Londoners who have bought their big city mistrust with them. We cannot do anything to our home without them either threatening to sue, or being scared that other people are going to sue for ridiculous contingencies which, realistically are never going to happen. I have had enough of their greed and paranoia and if and when i move it will be to a detatched property. This horrible culture has completely eroded basic common sense, goodness and kindness.