This winter has been icier than usual, and that means the risk of injury due to winter weather increases. According to an article from AccuWeather.com, spills on frozen sidewalk and slippery parking lots are the start of legal battles all across the nation.
Slipping and falling can result in anything from minor wrist sprains to serious head injuries, brain damage, and sometime death. But how do you know you’re liable if you fall on someone’s property or outside a business?
Well, according to the article, most states rule that you are liable from slip-and-fall injuries that result from unnatural accumulation. Unnatural accumulation includes situations in which snow or ice were crafted in a potentially hazardous situation other than from a natural occurrence.
An example of unnatural accumulation would be plowing that made a parking lot unsafe for driving. Snow falling from a snowstorm doesn’t count.
Due to confusion surrounding whether an incident was due to natural or unnatural causes, the test for reasonableness was introduced. This standard takes all factors of a circumstance into consideration, especially the weather conditions at the time of the slip and fall, or other incident that caused personal injury.
Knowing how weather affected the fall, and what had been going on before the injury took place, is extremely important to a personal injury claim. For example, an active winter storm in progress can prove to be a realistic defense for not shoveling the sidewalk. But, leaky pipes that cause a sidewalk to get icy—or walkways that aren’t salted in a timely manner during the melting a refreezing that happens before a storm—could make a business or homeowner liable for any injury caused by the dangerous conditions.
One of the biggest reasons a property owner lands in court for a slip-and-fall case is that they assume their legal responsibility ends at their property line. The property owner is often responsible for more than just the official property line: ensuring the safety of some extra spaces outside the line is the owner’s responsibility, too.
In the winter, you can only be so careful. No matter how closely you watch your feet as you navigate over ice, there is always a chance a slip and fall can happen. If an injury does occur and you feel as though you are eligible for a claim against a negligent property owner, contact a trusted personal injury lawyer in your area.