But a recent judgment handed down by the 20 civil chamber of the Liège Court of Appeal leads us to plunge back into the throes of winter.
The facts date back to January 15, 2017. Around 6:30 a.m., Christian Schockmel, a resident of Habergy (Messancy), brought his wife, who had mobility problems, to the main entrance door of the Arlon hospital. There is a time-limited parking area here allowing people with mobility problems to access the hospital.
The resident of Messancy pushes a wheelchair but tired, he slips on the icy sidewalk and is seriously injured (broken ankle). The victim requested the intervention of the civil liability insurer of the Arlon hospital, Ethias, for all the significant medical costs related to his fracture and the resulting treatment.
Mr.Schockmel, and his lawyer, MeMarc Kauten, considered that the responsibility of the hospital was engaged because the sidewalk was icy and no salting had been carried out by the workers of Vivalia at this place.
The company Ethias refuted any responsibility, arguing that the victim would have slipped on “a patch of mud mixed with snow” .
The dispute ended up before the civil court of Arlon, which in a judgment of March 24, 2021, found in favor of the company Ethias.
The Arlon court considered that Vivalia had acted like any normally prudent and diligent hospital. “it cannot reasonably be required of a hospital that all of its car park and its access roads be perfectly clear and salty and that no part of them be slippery as a result of winter weather conditions, in particular especially at such an early hour as 6:30 a.m.”.
Ethias and Vivalia condemned in Liège
MeKauten appealed against this decision and did well since a few days ago, the Liège Court of Appeal issued a judgment which reformed the Arlon judgment.
The Liège court considers that the winter conditions required the intervention of salting on the accesses close to the hospital, from 6 am. “The sidewalk that Vivalia was in charge of did have an abnormal characteristic, constituting a defect, likely to mislead the legitimate trust of users” states the Court of Appeal.
The liability of SA Ethias is therefore engaged and it will have to pay a provisional amount of €5,000 to the victim. In addition, a medical expert has been appointed.