Q&A - Who to sue in bad weather collisions - local authority or other driver?

Q. I was involved in a multiple vehicle pile-up during the “Beast from the East”. I could see the vehicles ahead were backed up and I managed to stop in time but a car behind skidded into me and I collided with the central barrier. My leg was badly crushed in the accident and I am now off work. Who do I sue? The Local Authority for the poor road conditions, or the driver?

A. The recent snow and ice caused road surfaces throughout the UK to become very slippery and dangerous. Very occasionally claims may be directed to the Local Authority; for example if a car has skidded on black ice after the Local Authority have failed to grit the road despite knowing of the impending plummet in temperatures, or if they have negligently failed to grit it properly and have “missed a bit”. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases the claim will be brought against the driver who caused the collision. In your case this is the car which skidded into you.

Whilst you may sympathise with the driver, due to the poor road conditions, every driver on the road has a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of other road users. By failing to leave a safe stopping distance, failing to control the vehicle and potentially driving too quickly, the other driver has caused the collision. In light of the obviously dangerous conditions the driver should have adjusted their driving accordingly and taken extra care.

There is a slim possibility that the driver’s insurance company could seek a contribution from the Local Authority, but it seems unlikely in your case. Crush injuries can be serious and you should seek immediate advice from a local solicitor to assist you in making a claim for damages, including any loss of earnings suffered.

(Published 02/04/2018)

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham

Claire Parfitt

Claire Parfitt

Senior Solicitor

Senior Solicitor within our Civil Litigation team in Wrexham and Oswestry