Ice causing crash. Who is liable?

Boat1234
Boat1234 Posts: 6
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A friend of mind has just had a car crash due to black ice on an ungritted road.  Driving conditions were poor this morning and she skidded down a hill on a B road ending up hitting a fence post and damaging the car but thankfully no people.  There was no grit on the road and she was not driving fast. 

Has the council got a liability here? Surely the fact that the road was not gritted is the cause of the accident. Same as the council not filling potholes.

Does anyone have any experience? 
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  • MeteredOut
    MeteredOut Posts: 1,055
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    edited 8 January at 1:29PM
    See here: https://www.national-accident-helpline.co.uk/injury-and-accident-claims/road-traffic-accident/car-accident-claims/car-accident-due-to-snow

    "Local authorities have a duty to keep roads safe

    Your local authority and The Highways Agency have a duty to make sure that surfaces are safe for road users. This includes pedestrians and cyclists. And as part of this, they should take reasonable steps to clear roads and pavements of snow.

    Because the weather can change so quickly, it's not possible for the authorities to clear all roads, so they should prioritise main roads first and close roads which could be especially dangerous, such as mountain routes. This could help to reduce the number of accidents in snow or on ice.

    In some cases, they may also be required to put out warning signs or close roads that are unsuitable for travel in bad weather conditions.

    If the authorities have failed to follow the regulations set out by The Highways Act 1980 and you've been injured in a car accident due to snow or ice, then you may be able to make a claim."


    Since this was a B road, I think it will be difficult to place the blame somewhere other than with the driver.


    Does your friend have legal protection with their car policy?

  • cymruchris
    cymruchris Posts: 4,878
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    edited 8 January at 3:10PM
    Boat1234 said:
    A friend of mind has just had a car crash due to black ice on an ungritted road.  Driving conditions were poor this morning and she skidded down a hill on a B road ending up hitting a fence post and damaging the car but thankfully no people.  There was no grit on the road and she was not driving fast. 

    Has the council got a liability here? Surely the fact that the road was not gritted is the cause of the accident. Same as the council not filling potholes.

    Does anyone have any experience? 

    Alongisde what's been mentioned already, that although the council will do their utmost to ensure roads are clean and clear, a driver of a motor vehicle can't rely on them to grit every road every night of the year. It's also up to the driver to assess conditions and take reasonable care, and if it was cold enough for ice, your friend would have to take the relevant precautions (which may have included not taking the trip).

    Not all B roads are given the full grit treatment - it's usually Motorways an 'A' roads that get priority. Driving slowly doesn't equate to driving safely for the conditions. Many people aren't used to driving in poor weather conditions, and don't know how to handle the car safely when the road is covered in ice and snow. (Which I'd expect as we only see this kind of weather for the odd week or two every year).

    It would probably be best for your friend to speak to their insurance company who can take the relevant details and assess whether a claim against the council can be made, or whether it has to be a claim on the policy itself. There's no black and white 'rule' that will allow your friend to make a claim, as there are so many variables, but I'd suggest that even though they were 'driving slowly' - it'll be ultimately them that will be held responsible.
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  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 8,852
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    Boat1234 said:
    A friend of mind has just had a car crash due to black ice on an ungritted road.  Driving conditions were poor this morning and she skidded down a hill on a B road ending up hitting a fence post and damaging the car but thankfully no people.  There was no grit on the road and she was not driving fast. 

    Has the council got a liability here? Surely the fact that the road was not gritted is the cause of the accident. Same as the council not filling potholes.

    Does anyone have any experience? 
    Most likely it will be deemed your friend's fault for not driving appropriately for the weather conditions and she will be liable for the damage to the fence. 
  • Tucosalamanca
    Tucosalamanca Posts: 430
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    Perhaps the cause of the incident was your friend choosing to drive in what you describe as poor conditions?
    What decisions did they take to mitigate risks? Was the journey planned, were safer routes available (A Roads), were all season/winter tyres fitted?
    Without a Police investigation, you have no idea if lack of gritting was a factor and at this point it certainly isn't a 'fact'.

    Do you really think that councils/highways agency should grit every street in the country or be held liable otherwise?
  • BoGoF
    BoGoF Posts: 6,756
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    "Not driving fast" - what does that actually mean in this context 45 in a 50? Either way next to no chance of council being held responsible. Do you know how many miles of road there are in the country? Do you expect them all to be gritted?

    As an aside, gritted roads can still ice over.
  • WellKnownSid
    WellKnownSid Posts: 1,347
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    Boat1234 said:
    Driving conditions were poor this morning and she skidded down a hill on a B road ending up hitting a fence post and damaging the car but thankfully no people.

    ...

    Surely the fact that the road was not gritted is the cause of the accident.
    The cause of the accident as you summarised were that the conditions were poor and the car skidded down a hill hitting a fence post.

    I have been in that exact situation myself about 25 years ago and chose to find a safe place to abandon my car at the top of the hill and walk the last two miles into work. By the time I'd walked to the bottom of said hill I had probably witnessed at least thirty accidents.  Some clowns were desperately grinding their alloys against the kerb in an attempt to slow - didn't work but sounded truly expensive!  It was a real mess at the bottom, loads of people scratching their heads, it was almost as if nobody could have predicted what was about to happen next.

    Get-home-itis / Get-to-work-itis are not great reasons to have a crash.
  • Arunmor
    Arunmor Posts: 62
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    What gear were they in, they should have been in 1st or 2nd using the engine to brake and as above what speed were they doing?  There is zero chance the council will accept responsibility.
  • Veteransaver
    Veteransaver Posts: 299
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    No hope of suing the council! Is the damage bad?
  • Hoenir
    Hoenir Posts: 1,082
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    If weather conditions are poor best to main routes. Go off piste so to speak and the risk is entirely yours. That's why we have insurance. Accidents happened. Not always a case of someone to blame. 
  • DullGreyGuy
    DullGreyGuy Posts: 8,852
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    Hoenir said:
    If weather conditions are poor best to main routes. Go off piste so to speak and the risk is entirely yours. That's why we have insurance. Accidents happened. Not always a case of someone to blame. 
    But in this case their is, its the friend... their insurers will be payout to the fence owner
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