If There Is Mud On The Road, Who Is Liable For An Accident?
Posted on 13th May 2020
Our Personal Injury compensation claims Solicitors in Lancaster are sympathetic to the fact that following a very wet winter, many farms are seeking to catch up with the necessary work. Already in Lancaster and Preston we have seen farmers trying to move quickly to get late Spring crops in following a dismal winter before the grass season starts.
This “big rush” has meant that we are seeing more mud on the road, I should hasten to add that I do of course refer to the Lancashire area before our Dorset counterparts begin bemoaning the lack of rain for any real maize growth! More mud unfortunately and inevitably means higher risk of road traffic accidents.
Back in 2012 the NFU actually released a note to farmers on the liability of mud on the road and most of that advice is still good. On the off chance you don’t have that note safely stored away, and instead you have scribbled ear tag numbers on it or it is the workshop with the replacement filters you need neatly scrawled across it, here is some advice on your local personal injury compensation claim solicitors.
Farmers and other vehicle operatives (such as Construction Companies) are legally obliged to clear up after themselves and if they do not then the are potentially liable for a range of offences, primarily under the Highways Act 1980.
- Section 148 of the Highways Act 1980 states that it is an offence to deposit mud or debris on the highway which would or could interrupt other users of the highway
- Section 149 of the Highways Act 1980 gives highways the authority to clean the road AND recover its expenses from the person who has caused the obstruction
- Section 161 of the Highways Act states that should a person, who does not have lawful authority or excuse, deposits anything on the highway, which causes another to be injured or endangered then the person is guilty of an offence.
If you are found guilty of a S.148 or S.162 offence, then you could be liable for a fine of up to £1,000.00 but more importantly should the mud lead to a personal injury, damage to property, liable for loss or inconvenience and then personally responsible for damages. You would also be looking at a conviction for a criminal offence and the criminal offence would be relied upon in any claim for damages.
What MUST you do to prevent mud on the road?
- Simply, everything possible. This includes cleaning mud from vehicles before being taken on the road.
- If there is danger of mud being accidentally deposited, then you must use “slippery road” signs or “mud on road” signs. It is worth checking with your local Council or Highways Authority as to their requirements for such road signs.
- Clean the road regularly throughout the working day and at the end of the working day/middle of night.
- Ensure that necessary equipment is available to clean the road and it is suitable to remove the soil present in the whether conditions you are facing (come on now, you don’t need a Solicitor to tell you that if you’re on clay soil then it is sticky, really sticky! So, you will need to clean the road more regularly.)
- If you are using a contractor, ensure a prior (preferably written and signed) agreement is in place which sets out who is responsible for “mud on road” issues. If an agreement is not in place, then it will ultimately be the landowner/user who would be liable. An agreement could help ensure you are protected and that contractors take more active responsibility when travelling from land to road.
Further useful suggestions:
- Hire clean up equipment in advance, we see a lot of farmers having a road sweeper on standby during wet maize seasons.
- Where possible keep to your own farm roads.
- Keep to low speeds to help prevent more mud than necessary being deposited
- Record, in writing, what was done on what day with regards to the road. For example, “when spreading signs were deployed to warn of mud on road” or “when carting grass from field to clamp the road was cleaned with a road sweeper every hour”.
If you have concerns about liability relating to farming activity or indeed you have been injured as a result of mud on the road, contact MG Legal’s expert team of personal injury solicitors via email@example.com, or call 01995 602 129.
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