As the weather turns bad, many store owners and landowners begin to ask what their responsibility is with respect to clearing ice and snow from their walkways, parking lots and sidewalks. Similarly, people begin asking whether they have a viable personal injury case where they have sustained an injury after slipping and falling on an ice and snow condition.
Typically, landowners (whether they be a homeowner, shopping center owner, parking lot owner, mall owner or storeowner) have a duty to make their land or premises safe for the general public and individuals that they invite on their land. Under general landowner liability principles, a landowner must take reasonable steps to protect people coming onto their property from being injured as a result of a slippery condition caused by ice or snow. This generally includes snow removal and salting or sanding to prevent slippery conditions from existing. However, the law only requires landowners to do what is reasonable under the circumstances to clear the ice and snow.
With respect to the existence of ice and snow on property that causes someone to slip and fall, the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the landowner’s action or inaction will be determined, in part, by the length of time that the ice and snow existed prior to person’s fall, the location of the ice and snow, whether any actions had been previously taken by the landowner to remove the ice and snow and whether other conditions of the land contributed to the existence of the ice or snow.
In addition to the landowners, other entities may also be responsible for the continued existence of ice or snow. These entities include tenants on the premises under certain circumstances, snow removal contractors and even those entities which may have designed or built the premises. Only attorneys trained in such matters will be able to properly determine the appropriate parties to investigate in that these cases are generally depend on the facts of each individual situation.
In these types of cases, it is important to preserve the evidence with respect to the existence of the ice and snow if possible. This may be done in many ways including, but not limited to, taking photographs, advising the manager of the store or facility of the fall and the condition at the time it occurs, and obtaining the names of witnesses if possible. Because the existence of ice and snow can be easily and quickly corrected (by shoveling or slating and sanding), it is imperative that the evidence be preserved as soon as possible.
If you or a family member have been injured as a result of a slip or fall on ice or snow on someone else’s property, it is imperative to seek advice of a competent personal injury lawyer to protect your rights as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.