Public Liability Insurance and Road Gritting

in Road

The last couple of weeks, which saw the entire UK coming under serious snowfalls, have reactivated discussions on the need for public liability insurance. First, an MP who was unhappy with rules concerning the clearing of snow and ice from roads and pavements had to call for the review of the law to enable councils protect people.

The MP's argument was based on the fact that unlike in the past when councils provided grit bins to enable members of the public grit roads themselves, there were no more grit bins, amidst fears that improper gritting could create a legal loophole to the advantage of those seeking to make a claim for compensation.

"For decades councils have provided grit bins on side roads for the use of motorists and household ... But now there's concern that members of the public gritting side roads footpaths could fall foul of a compensation claims since they could be held responsible for failing to grit the road adequately," explained the MP.

Floodgates of Compensation Claims

Her position followed concerns for public safety as snowfalls completely covered roads and pavements, making it impossible for pedestrians, motorists or commuters to move around. Insisting on doing so could result in an accident, a slip or fall and possible injuries. This could also mean opening the floodgates of compensation claims.

Why would compensation arise from the failure to grit roads or clear snows and ice from pavement and roads? People who suffered injuries or had their property damaged, including vehicles, could choose to make claims against councils for not adequately keeping the roads or pavements safe for their use. The successful pursuance of such claims could result in huge pay outs in compensation.

The Public Liability Insurance Argument

While it is usually the job of councils to ensure the road are kept safe, employees of the councils carrying out the instruction to grit roads need to have some sort of cover. This cover is known as public liability insurance. This explains why in Marlborough, recently, town council workers were unable to clear snow and ice from pavements because they couldn't get the go-ahead to do so. And for a whole week they couldn't do the job badly needing to be done.

The reason for this long wait was nothing other than the necessary public liability insurance the workers needed to protect themselves from being held liable, financially, in the event of claims arising from an injury or damage.

But it may be necessary to ask at this point if there shouldn't be a better way round this issue? If the snows and ice put the lives of people at a risk that could result in injuries or damage if not cleared in time, shouldn't there be an agreed policy to enable people who should be doing the clearing perform their duty at all times? Perhaps, one way to do this is to make sure they are covered by public liability insurance each time there is a need to grit roads or clear snows.

Meanwhile, a councilor at Wiltshire County Council has vowed to press for a standing arrangement that would allow ground staff swing into action whenever there was snow or ice. This could save the council a lot of trouble in the future as time would not be wasting seeking consents while members of the public suffer.

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Musa M Aliyu has 1 articles online

Find out if you can make a personal injury claim for a public accident that was due to someone else's negliegnce.

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Public Liability Insurance and Road Gritting

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This article was published on 2010/04/27