Pursuing Litigation for a Slip and Fall Injury on Snow, Ice
It comes as no surprise that many slip and fall accidents occur during the winter. Snow, ice, sleet and frozen rain can create hazardous conditions on both the roads and sidewalks. It helps to be careful and take precautions during these weather conditions, but sometimes a slip and fall injury occurs nonetheless. If you were injured after a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk, you may be wondering whether you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in accident cases, including slip and fall lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a lawsuit.
Firstly, an injury must meet certain criteria to file a lawsuit. Simply slipping and falling on the ground does not automatically warrant litigation. When filing a lawsuit for a slip and fall injury, you must be able to prove that your injury was caused by another party’s negligence. Slip and fall sidewalk accidents are mostly caused by snow and ice, as well as broken sidewalks.
If you slipped and fell due to negligence on an icy sidewalk, the liable party might be the municipality, or it could be a private homeowner or business owner. This depends on where you fall, and your state laws. In most cases, the municipality is not responsible for clearing ice or snow away from sidewalks in front of private residences and commercial buildings. Generally, the city would only be liable for a slip and fall accident caused by negligence in front of a public building or area. Therefore, if you slipped and fell on ice in front of a private or commercial residence due to negligence, you would likely be pursuing litigation against the owner of that property.
When pursuing litigation against a private property owner, you must be able to show that an unreasonably unsafe condition existed. Furthermore, you must show that the property owner knew or should have known about these conditions. This means that the owner must have a reasonable amount of time to address the dangerous condition. For example, if would be difficult to prove liability if your slip and fall accident occurred immediately after it started snowing.
If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, take pictures of your injuries and of the scene. It can be difficult to prove that conditions were unsafe, for example, if the snow melts an hour after you fall. Seek medical attention as needed. Photographic evidence can help support your injury claims.
What About Suing a City, Town or Other Municipality for a Slip and Fall?
When filing a personal injury lawsuit against a municipality, Parker Waichman notes that most states have strict notice and time deadlines to pursue a claim. Additionally, in most places there is a cap on how much you can recover for a slip and fall accident. The exact deadlines vary depending on the state. However, you should be aware that the deadline is as short as 30 days in some areas to notify the municipality of the exact location and details of your injury. Additionally, some cities and towns have a shortened statute of limitations, or deadline to file a lawsuit.
Additionally, certain mistakes can bar your claim when suing a city or town. For example, in some states your lawsuit will be barred if you mistakenly send your notice to the wrong municipal department. Furthermore, you must ensure that you are making your claim against the appropriate government entity. For instance, if you give notice to the city where you fell but the state was actually responsible for clearing ice and snow on the sidewalk, your claim could be barred in some areas.
An injury from a slip and fall accident can rack up medical bills, cause you to miss days from work, and lead to serious physical and emotional damage depending on the severity of your injury. Compensation from a lawsuit can help cover these expenses. For specific questions related to a slip and fall injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
Slip and Fall Safety Tips for Winter
There are also certain safety tips pedestrians should implement to reduce the risk of a slip and fall injury. Footwear can make a significant difference. Wear shoes that have good traction, such as those made with non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles. Shoes that have smooth leather or plastic soles and heels can be slippery, and cause you to lose your footing on icy sidewalks. Additionally, make sure your attire allows you to have good visibility. Cold weather often draws people to wear hats and scarves, but make sure you can still see and hear what is going on around you, in addition to dressing warmly.
Wearing brightly colored clothing, such as a hat, scarf or jacket, also helps you become more visible to drivers. A heavy or bulky jacket may also help reduce impact if you fall.
Walk slowly and carefully. Utilize hand railings whenever they are available and take small steps when conditions are slippery. If a surface appears dark and wet, it could be icy. These slippery patches can cause you to slip and fall. Stay on designated sidewalks and avoid any shortcuts that have not been cleared of snow or ice.
If you are walking in snowy and icy weather, keep your arms as free as possible. This means avoid holding heavy bags and keep your arms out of your pockets. Additionally, free yourself of distractions such as texting while walking. Keep your balance by bending slightly and walking flat-footed with your arms out to your sides.
Legal Help for Slip/Trip and Fall Accident Victims
Parker Waichman has decades of experience representing victims injured by slip and fall accidents. If you or someone you know was injured by someone else’s negligence, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).