Who is Liable if Someone is Injured by Snow or Ice?

The arrival of winter weather and colder temperatures significantly changes the way we proceed through our days. Instead of walking out the door without coats we have to bundle up, and instead of wearing flip-flops and sandals, we wear boots. What would have been a rain shower may yield inches or even feet of snow, and moisture on the ground freezes and becomes ice. This means that our surroundings instantly become more treacherous, and areas and circumstances that would otherwise be danger-free can become hazardous. While there is nothing any of us can do to prevent the weather, property owners are expected to understand the risks that cold weather brings and to take reasonable actions to protect visitors from injuries. Failing to do so can lead to them being financially responsible for harm suffered by others.

Snow and ice that are not properly removed can lead to auto accidents and slip-and-fall accidents. The term “slip and fall” can be misleading – it lends itself to the idea of a minor incident, but in fact, slips and falls can lead to serious injuries, and even death. Slip and fall accidents can occur in the workplace, in residential areas, in retail and commercial properties, and on public property, and liability for any injuries suffered will depend on both the environment and whether the owner of the property took appropriate and reasonable precautions to prevent the incident from occurring.

The owners of a business have a significant duty of care to keep their property clear of snow and ice to ensure visitor safety, and the same is true of homeowners. Both are expected to respond to snowy or icy conditions, though they are not expected to do so immediately, while the snow or ice is forming, or to do so when conditions do not allow for removal to be done safely. The definition of reasonableness varies depending on the circumstances.

If a person is injured on one of these types of properties and it can be shown that the owner or those responsible for maintaining the property were negligent in their duty of keeping the property reasonably safe, then they may be required to compensate the injured party for any damages that they suffer. These damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, and similar real costs.

While property owners are frequently named as defendants in personal injury claims for failing to keep their property free of snow and ice, the injured party’s actions will also be closely examined to ensure that they acted reasonably to protect themselves. Horseplay in an icy area or showing disregard for signs warning of danger can be viewed as having contributed to their own injury.

If you or someone you love is injured as a result of snow or ice, you need the guidance of an experienced attorney to help you assess liability. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help. Contact us to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.