Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury in the United States. Unsurprisingly, winter snow and ice ramp up the numbers.
What Are the Slip and Fall Laws?
Typically, property owners (home and business) have a duty to maintain safe premises for those who use their sidewalks, walkways, and parking lots. In the winter, that generally includes snow/ice removal and salting within a reasonable amount of time, which is often spelled out by local ordinances. Property owners who fail to comply could be held liable for injuries.
A few states, however, abide by a “natural accumulation” rule, which exempts property owners from liability for fall injuries resulting from natural snow and ice accumulation—as long as the owner didn’t interfere with or alter the natural accumulation in some way, and no abnormal danger existed. Property owners could be held liable for “unnatural accumulations,” such as a leaky downspout that contributes to icy walkways.
The general public is also responsible for exercising reasonable care. For example, paying attention or taking an available, safer-looking route is a good start. Injured pedestrians or visitors who failed to exercise reasonable care could see potential compensation reduced or eliminated entirely.
Cases involving injuries from falls on government property are more complex. Like other property owners, the government (local, state, and federal) has a duty to maintain safe premises for guests and pedestrians. However, there are stricter procedures for filing a claim and a narrower window of time to kick off the process.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help After A Fall