Liability of homeowners for slips and falls during icy weather

17 April 2013

Homeowners can be and often are held liable for injuries which occur on their property. If a person slips, trips, or falls as a result of a dangerous or hazardous condition, the property owner may be held responsible. The Occupiers Liability Act (Northern Ireland) 1957 provides that an occupier of premises has a duty "to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there."

Given the recent spell of particularly bad weather, questions have arisen once again about the liability of homeowners who clear snow and ice from outside their homes. It would seem that many people are mistakenly of the view that any such action leaves them exposed to the risk of litigation and that it is better to leave the snow and ice untouched.

 The Department for Regional Development's Roads Service is the body responsible for gritting the roads in Northern Ireland. Its remit however does not extend to gritting all the footways. In 2010, the Attorney General of Northern Ireland advised that if homeowners clear snow or ice carefully from the pavement outside their home or public spaces they are unlikely to be held liable. A homeowner may be deemed to have taken sufficient care by clearing a path with a shovel and applying salt/grit/sand to the area; conversely homeowners who apply hot water over ice which subsequently freezes might find themselves liable if someone slips and falls as a result.

People walking on snow and ice have a responsibility to take care of themselves. So long as a homeowner has taken reasonable care to clear ice or snow from their premises, then it is unlikely that they will become liable for a claim.

To make an enquiry about a slipping accident and to find out if you may be entitled to claim compensation - please complete the enquiry form.

Caroline Dunlop, Associate Solicitor

For further information and advice please contact one of our team:

028 90770770


Disclaimer: No information in this article shall be construed as legal advice. The information is offered for general purposes only based on the current law when the information was first displayed on this website. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified solicitor on any specific legal enquiry.


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