With the festive period approaching, we have researched the causes of the most common personal injury claims in Leicester and Leicestershire in recent years, to see if we can shed light on the reasons behind the prevalence of these types of claims.

Road traffic accidents

Unsurprisingly, the number of road traffic accidents occurring in Leicester and the surrounding areas, significantly increases over Christmas and New Year.  Looking at the cases that we have dealt with recently, it is clear that there are several factors behind this.

Why do road traffic accidents increase in winter?

Weather conditions:

The risk of snow, ice, fog and mud means that the roads present many more dangers than they do at other times of the year.  Visibility and stopping distances are often reduced, meaning the risk of a rear end shunt increases significantly.

Dark nights:

There is almost always a marked increase in road traffic accidents during the weeks following the clocks changing in October and many road users do not always adapt their driving to accommodate the increased risks of driving in the dark.

Increased traffic:

As Christmas gets closer, the roads are undoubtedly more congested with shoppers and those driving on unfamiliar roads to travel to friends and family. 

Drink drivers:

With many Christmas parties and festivities taking place, many people drink a greater amount over the Christmas period.  The temptation to have a couple of drinks and drive home, thinking “I’ll never get caught” or “I’m fine to drive” coupled with the lack of awareness of ‘morning after’ driving, all increase the likelihood of a serious road traffic accident. 

Winter cyclist accidents

The festive period is also an especially dangerous time for cyclists due to the above factors, which put cyclists at an increased risk and make cyclists especially vulnerable to accidents and injury. The widening of potholes or failure of the local authority to adequately grit may also cause problems for cyclists.       

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault and was caused by any of the factors listed above, it is likely that you will be able to make a claim.

Slips, trips and falls

When we carried out our research, we sought opinions from local people to see what they expected to be the most common personal injury claim made over Christmas and many responded with slips, trips and falls.  It’s not a silly answer – there is often a lot of rushing around in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, as well as a lot more alcohol being consumed during socialising, especially at night.  Couple this with icy conditions and it seems like slips, trips and falls would be the obvious answer.  The reason that this isn’t, is because much of the time, if a person was to injure themselves whilst under the influence of alcohol, it is often their own fault, which means a claim cannot be brought against someone else.

Staying safe over the festive period

First and foremost, check the weather forecast before you go out.  The best way to avoid an accident in bad weather is to stay off the roads altogether, especially in the event snow or severe ice, but this is not always practical; especially during the festive season. 

If you do have to travel on the roads in snowy or icy conditions:

  • Make sure that you have completely cleared your windows and that you have full visibility from every window.
  • Before you set off, check that all your lights and window wipers are working properly and that your tyres have good tread depth.
  • Travel for as much of your journey on major roads, as they are likely to have been gritted.
  • Remember that your stopping distances are greatly increased by snow and ice, so always leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the one in front.

If you are traveling at night or on unfamiliar roads:

  • Plan your route well in advance.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time so that you are not tempted to rush.
  • If travelling on country roads, be aware of muddy patches.

If you have been to the office party or out celebrating with friends:

  • Don’t assume you can have a couple of drinks and be fine to drive; the safest bet is not to take the risk.
  • If you have driven to a party and ended up having a few too many drinks, don’t be tempted to drive home to avoid the hassle of collecting your car the next day.
  • Remember the morning after the night before, even if you feel fine alcohol could still be in your system.

Cyclists:

  • Even if you are travelling during the daytime, it is worth turning the lights on your bike and helmet on, as even when it is slightly foggy, the easier you make it for people to see you, the safer you will be.