With winter encompassing Chicago, the season of slipping and falling is upon us. Every winter, countless individuals become injured due to falling on icy surfaces. We’ve all experienced it; you’re walking along and then without any warning you find your feet slipping out from underneath and you end up flat on your back on the cold and icy surface.
These accidents can happen anywhere and commonly occur in parking lots and on public sidewalks. Over one million Americans are injured in slip and fall accidents every year and these accidents increase during the winter months thanks to snow and ice. These accidents are especially common in the Chicago area as the temperature often drops below freezing and walking is a common form of transportation. Slip and fall accidents can result in injuries ranging for mild to severe. Luckily most people walk away with only a few scrapes and bruises, but sometimes these accidents can lead to broken bones, damaged muscles, large wounds that require stitches, or even a concussion. These more serious injuries can require extended and expensive medical treatment like surgery or physical therapy.
Although icy conditions are unfortunately a part of life in the Midwest, many of these accidents could have and should have been prevented. All property owners are responsible for maintaining safe premises for visitors or customers. Public business owners are responsible for ensuring sidewalks and parking lots are maintained in a non-negligent manner to ensure these types of accidents don’t occur. Thus if you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident due to icy conditions on another’s property – whether it is a store, or even a friend’s house – the property owner may be held liable for your injuries.
However, just because you or a loved one were injured does not automatically result in liability on the property owner. Liability will only be present if the property owner failed to use reasonable care to maintain the property or acted in a negligent manner when removing ice or snow. It can be very difficult for a typical Chicago resident to discern whether they have a valid premises liability claim and speaking with a personal injury lawyer can prove invaluable to these people. Snow and ice also add another layer to determining liability for these accidents. Illinois employs the “unnatural accumulation law” which results in property owners only being held liable for slip and fall accidents if there is an unnatural accumulation of snow and ice. Examples of unnatural accumulations include piles of snow that were plowed from a parking lot and were placed negligently in another location, a sheet of ice that formed due to improper drainage or a broken downspout, or even the intentional creation of slippery conditions by hosing down an outdoor surface in cold weather.
All of us at Abels & Annes hope you and your family have an accident free winter, but if you do become the victim of a slip and fall injury, know that we have attorneys standing by to take your call. Our attorneys have been fighting for victims’ rights for years and are prepared to provide a free case consultation to help you understand your rights.
Prior Blog Entry:
Illinois Faces Multi-Car Collisions Daily, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published November 28, 2016.