Whose Fault Is It When Someone Slips On Winter Ice?

Posted on: 28 November 2018

If you live in a cold, snowy climate, you already likely know how treacherous the ice and snow can be. Even if you love the brisk conditions, you probably don't enjoy the daily grind of shoveling, scraping your vehicle, and walking to and fro as you go about your business running errands.

As annoying as this is, it can also be downright dangerous when someone slips and falls on a sidewalk or in a parking lot during the winter. Here is what you should know about where the responsibility lies when someone gets hurt.

What Responsibility Do People Have In Winter?

Both commercial and residential property owners are responsible for keeping their premises safe. For the commercial property owner, this means keeping their parking lot, pathways, and their share of municipal sidewalks free and clear of snow and ice. It also means keeping a close eye on entryways where people come and go as this area can also get slippery from the melting snow from people's boots.

Homeowners, including those who are landlords, also need to make sure they keep their sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and entryways clear. However, in the case of landlords, some landlords put in their rental agreements that it is the responsibility of the tenant to take care of snow removal. Depending on state laws, this can end up being a gray area, one of many reasons a landlord should have their rental agreement drawn up by an attorney.

People also have the responsibility to exercise caution when they are walking outdoors. This means things like wearing proper footwear for the conditions outside. If you slip and fall on the ice while wearing high heels, you can't very well blame the property owner.

Whose Fault Is It When Someone Slips And Falls Outside?

Like most slip and fall accidents, determining who is liable can be complicated. While property owners have a responsibility to keep their areas free and clear of snow and ice, this isn't possible 24 hours a day. For example, in snow belts, the snow can accumulate faster than it can be removed sometimes. Or, it may snow in the middle of the night. The law doesn't expect people to be out shoveling in the middle of a blizzard. The average person should expect that under these conditions, sidewalks and parking lots may not be completely clear.

However, if it is obviously that no effort is being made to keep walking areas relatively safe in general, or if someone enters a business and falls on wet and slippery floors, the property owner may be found negligent and thus held liable for any injuries that occur.

If you have been injured while walking on a snow or ice-covered sidewalk or parking lot, it's important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If you are medically able to, taking pictures with your cellphone can also help. Don't refuse medical assistance, and make sure you file an accident report if you are injured at a place of business.