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Urban Myth Buster - Can homeowners be sued if they clear snow or ice from driveways or paths if someone then slips on it and hurts themselves?

As the snow falls heavily across the UK in the grip of the ‘Beast from the East’, homeowners are busy digging out snow and creating neat pathways to their doors. Some neighbourly-spirited folk are even clearing the public footpaths and roads outside their house too.

But what if a visiting Postie (or anyone else for that matter) slips on your path and breaks their arm? What then? Could they sue you?

In short – no. Provided you have not acted recklessly.

For a personal injury claim to succeed, someone must have been ‘negligent’…and that ‘negligence’ must also be proved by the injured person.

If a claim by an injured person were to succeed, the homeowner would need to be extremely reckless in how they went about clearing the driveway or path. For example, using hot water to melt snow which is then going to re-freeze and create a dangerous sheet of ice would be foolish and negligent. Simply not doing a thorough job, or putting down grit, wouldn’t be sufficient to make you liable.

So, don’t be put off clearing your driveways and paths from snow and ice for fear of being sued! Just follow this advice from the government on how to tackle clearing it.

• do it early in the day - it’s easier to move fresh, loose snow • don’t use water - it might refreeze and turn to black ice • use salt if possible - it will melt the ice or snow and stop it from refreezing overnight (but don’t use the salt from salting bins as this is used to keep roads clear) • you can use ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt - it will provide grip underfoot • pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways - using more salt may help

Let us take it from here.

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