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.
A property owner, manager, or another person, may voluntarily undertake the clearing of snow or ice, in which case the person removing the snow or ice has a duty to exercise reasonable care. The courts are split whether there is liability if a property owner contracts with a snow removal company to remove the snow.
The law is very complicated in this area and hiring an attorney at the outset of any claim is important. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, and need help, call the Chicago personal injury attorneys Zneimer & Zneimer.