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Firm’s failure to remove car park ice leads to damages claim

At a glance

  • Claim made against real estate company Savills as the car park occupier
  • Woman walking through car park slipped on ice, injuring wrist and thigh
  • Damages awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity

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The case of: Hughes v Savills plc, 21.10.13, Chester County Court

In February 2012, the claimant, Ms Hughes, was walking through a car park occupied by the defendant, Savills, when she slipped on a patch of ice.

She sustained a strained right wrist, and bruising and swelling to her right thigh. Ms Hughes, who was aged 45 at the time, claimed damages from Savills for her injuries, alleging they had breached their duty to her under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957.

Broker Tips

  • Having a proactive, responsible and formalised health and safety system in place ensures firms can defend themselves from claims in the event of an accident.
  • Careful provisions should be made for car parks in icy conditions. As soon as icy conditions are predicted, firms should keep car parking spaces and pathways gritted and clear of ice, ideally with warnings signs, regular inspection and re-application of salt where necessary.

Her allegations included failure to remove ice from the car park or failing to grit it. Ms Hughes’ wrist was suspected to be fractured and therefore placed in a temporary cast, although on further inspection it was found to be strained, not fractured.

A wrist splint was initially applied and, later, an elasticated support bandage. Ms Hughes experienced much pain in her wrist for up to two months after the accident, experiencing difficulty with gripping.

Ms Hughes worked as a reclamation yard manager and was unable to work for four weeks due to her injuries. Despite taking over-the-counter analgesics, she needed help with domestic tasks for six weeks.

The injuries to Ms Hughes’ thigh resolved within four weeks, but seven months after the accident, she continued to experience pain in her wrist, exacerbated by manual and house work.

One year after the accident, the pain in Ms Hughes’ wrist was intermittent, and mostly prevalent during manual activity or during cold weather. She declined an arthroscopy. The prognosis was that she would probably not fully recover, but her symptoms would improve. She was expected to experience permanent, intermittent, but mild symptoms.

The judge regarded her symptoms as minimal, but judgment was granted in Ms Hughes’ favour. Referring to the 12th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines, chapter 7 Section H(d), the judge awarded Ms Hughes £7,000 general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

Image © Getty

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