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Articles Posted in Slip and Fall


Though it has been a snow free winter so far this winter, it may be about time to find the snow shovels and salt and get ready to shovel the sidewalk.  Shoveling the sidewalk in front of ones house or building is not only a considerate thing to do it is also required by law in Chicago.  The Municipal Code of Chicago 4-4-310 & 10-8-180 requires that property owners and occupants of land keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice.  A five foot wide path must be created for pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks.  Additionally, the snow that is cleared should not be into alleys, crosswalks, bike-lanes or Divvy stations.  Chicago property owners must clear the snow anytime it snows.  For snow at night the snow must be removed by 10 a.m.  For snowfall during the day, the snow must be cleared by 10 p.m. at night.  The penalty for not following the law are possible fines ranging from $50-$500.  Violators can be reported by calling 311.

Ice and snow create a big fall risk for anyone using an uncleared sidewalk.   The fall risk is especially acute for people who have difficulty walking, such as seniors, people with disabilities and young children.  Every winter the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. receive numerous calls from people have been injured from a fall after slipping on ice or snow on an uncleared sidewalk or walkway.  Additionally, uncleared sidewalks and walkways cause people to walk in the street which is especially dangerous since the roads will most likely be slick if there is snow and there is usually not enough room for both cars and pedestrians.   The lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer encourage everyone to shovel their sidewalks for everyone’s safety and shoveling has the added benefit of being great exercise.



The weather brought us a lot of snow in Chicago, first sparkly and puffy, and now soggy and icy.  Walking in snow is a risky business, as every step carries the peril of slip and fall.  The ruts and the mounds of shoveled snow amplify the hazard.  The accidental step in a rut or step on a transparent ice formation from melted snow mound nearby can lead to very serious injuries.  Every winter brings along with the cold and snow, many injuries as a result of snow related hazards to both pedestrians and car drivers.  Paying attention, driving carefully, and minimizing winter driving can decrease the chance of a snow-related car crash.

For pedestrians: wearing proper shoes, walking carefully, and watching out for ice, can decrease the risk of slip and fall.   As personal injury attorneys we field a lot of calls from injured people as a result of ice and snow, and can help in some cases.   The law is not kind to people who slip and fall.

Under the common law, a property owner has no general duty to clear natural accumulations of ice or snow because it is unrealistic to keep all pathways clear from snow during winter.  An injured person in a slip and fall case must prove that the ice or snow is (i) an unnatural accumulation, and that (ii) the property owner knew or should have known of the condition.  In addition, the injured victim must establish that the specific unnatural condition caused the slip and fall. Continue reading

According to a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, having professional translators on staff may limit miscommunications between patients and medical staff in the ER. The study found that mistakes with “clinical consequences” were twice as likely to occur if the hospital ER no interpreters or amateur interpreters to translate for the non-English speaking patient.

The study, which was conducted with primarily Spanish speaking families, found that 12 percent of translation errors could have been a potential risk to a child but when the translator was a family member or a non-professional translator the potentially risky errors went up to 22 percent. Interpreters with at least 100 hours of training were found to have the lowest error rate with only two percent of errors being potentially harmful to a child.

In one example of an error, the amateur translator told the ER medical staff that the child patient was not on any medications and was not allergic to any medications when in fact he never ever asked the mother of the child whether this was true.

As reported in CBS’ Historic Auburn-Gresham Building Torn Down After Partial Collapse, shortly after noon on Tuesday, January 31st, four people were injured when a three story historic building partially collapsed. The building, located on the northeast corner of 79th and Halsted, has been vacant for 20 years and was originally constructed in the 1880’s. It is owned by the city of Chicago. The debris falling from the building injured people on the street and caught two others under scaffolding.

Firefighters worked to remove the victims and searched under the rubble for an alleged fifth victim. According to the Chicago Fire Department it appears the top of the building’s brick façade collapsed along the roofline causing it to fall below. The scaffolding surrounding the building buckled as the roofline collapsed, trapping several pedestrians. Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Robert Hoff included that a tree had grown through the building’s roof and believes years of neglect, along with recent weather conditions, and the age of the building led to the building’s collapse.

A Chicago ordinance requires that snow that falls before 4 p.m. be shoveled within 3 hours. Snow falling after 4 p.m. must be shoveled by 10 a.m. the next day. The fine for not shoveling is a $50.00. The law is obviously not strictly enforced.

The ordinance also protects those who shovel from liability for not doing a good job of shoveling. Chicago Municipal Code Section 10-8-190 states: “Any person who removes snow or ice from the public sidewalk or street, shall not, as a result of his acts omissions in such removal, be liable for civil damages. This section does not apply to acts or omissions amounting to wilful or wanton misconduct in such snow or ice removal.”

However, the law does not protect property owners who create or whose property creates an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow that is unreasonably dangerous. For example Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer handled a case where a property owner had a pipe on his building that drained water on to the public sidewalk which then froze causing an unnatural accumulation of ice. Our client suffered a broken leg after slipping on the ice on the sidewalk and the Chicago injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer were able to reach a fair money settlement for our clients injuries.

When a person suffers injuries as a result of a slip and fall on negligently maintained property, it is important to establish who is responsible to maintain the property that caused the slip and fall.

In the recent decision Gilmore v. Powers, the Illinois Appellate Court determined that homeowners are not responsible for injuries on public property abutting their house, even if the homeowners maintained the property by cutting grass, watering, spreading salt on the property. The plaintiff in this case was a mover that was helping the property owners move their belongings from California to their home in Evanston, Illinois. As the moving company was finishing its work, one of the movers fell on a stone walkway which straddled the city-owned parkway in front of defendants’ house.

The mover sued the homeowners for negligence claiming that the homeowners should have maintained “their property” in a condition that was safe for people such as herself. The mover specifically asserted that the homeowners violated this duty by failing to inspect “their property” for hazardous conditions, permitting the walkway to remain in a dangerous condition, failing to fix the walkway after becoming aware of its dangerous condition, and failing to properly maintain the walkway on the property.

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