Watch Out for That Ice!: Who's to Blame for Slip and Falls?

dangers of iceOld man winter has reared its ominous head and that means snow and ice injuries. Using extra caution when you’re walking outdoors during the winter months doesn’t always ensure that you’ll remain injury free. Sometimes a slip and fall is simply an accident and other times it can be due to negligence.

Snow and Ice Injuries

Snow and ice injuries are typical hazards during the winter season. A slip or fall is common and may only result in the bruising of your pride. However, some falls can cause injuries or broken bones, especially to the elderly. Just because you fell and suffered complications doesn’t always mean that someone else is to blame for the accident. After a snowstorm, it takes common sense to know to be extra cautious when heading to work or the store. However, according to our local Indiana personal injury lawyer, there are instances where a property owner is responsible for the accident based on their negligence. Some common forms of negligence include improper ice and snow removal and the failure to fix a hazardous situation.

The Obligation of the Property Owner

A property owner is under obligation to remove any snow or ice from public walkways, passageways, sidewalks and parking lots. The pathway of a sidewalk needs to be cleared in a reasonable time once the storm has passed and should allow enough space to get through. Salt and sand should be used to remove icy patches and it needs to be monitored daily. Parking lots should be entirely cleared to allow customers the freedom to park and walk safely to their destination. If a homeowner clears their driveways and sidewalks, they are responsible for keeping the area safe and maintained because the expectation is that the area is safe to pass. However, leaving a driveway and walkway untouched indicates the path is hazardous and visitors need to use extreme caution when traversing through your property.

Black Ice

With the holiday season upon us, you are sure to find yourself making a trip to the store or shopping mall. Mall and store parking lots and walkways can be especially hazardous due to black ice. Black ice forms when snow or ice melts and then refreezes. It becomes transparent, hard and extremely slippery because it’s difficult to see. Black ice related injuries are typically more serious than your average fall from snow or ice. Some of them include:

  • Neck injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Brain injuries
  • Concussions
  • Death

Property owners are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure environment for their customers. Because black ice forms due to improper drainage, a property owner must continuously check for warning signs and repair the problems immediately.

Safety Tips

Snow and ice are the most common causes when it comes to slipping or falling. Knowing how to navigate around the slippery surfaces such as walkways, parking lots and stairs can help you prevent an injury.

  • When you enter a building, shake off the snow from the bottom of your shoes.
  • Be aware of the walking conditions and slow down when traveling around slippery spots.
  • Wear shoes or boots with good traction.
  • Keep your hands free and clear to be used for balance in case of a fall.

As the winter weather approaches, you need to remember to use extreme caution when traveling outdoors. Property owners have an obligation to keep the public areas free from snow and ice, but they can often be remiss in their duties. If you suffer an injury due to a weather related fall, you should seek medical treatment immediately.
Growing up on the East Coast with heavy snow and ice makes freelance author, Nadine Swayne, aware of ice hazards and how to navigate away from injury. She contributes this post for Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. As an Indiana personal injury lawyer firm, they have many years of experience helping victims of ice hazard accidents to rebuild their lives.
Photo Courtesy of soccerkrys

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