Winter slip and fall accidents commonly occur on outdoor surfaces when freezing temperatures and blizzards create dangerous icy conditions. Slippery surfaces caused by excessive snowfall, sleet, slush, or ice put thousands of people in the hospital every year with fractures, broken bones, and head injuries.
Winter Slip and Fall Accidents
During winter months, slip and fall lawyers commonly see an increase in personal injuries caused by falls on snow-covered and icy sidewalks, walkways, driveways and parking lots. If pedestrians and outdoor workers suddenly experience a slip and fall accident on a hard, icy surface, the result is often serious personal injuries including sprains and bruises, broken bones and fractures, back and neck injuries, spinal disk injuries, head trauma, and brain injuries.
In 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court clarified an old Illinois law that was passed in 1979. The intent of the original law was to encourage property owners to voluntarily clear snow and ice from sidewalks and walkways, while shielding them from liability claims for injuries caused by inadequate clearing.
According to the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act, owners, managers and occupants of residential properties will not be held liable for slip and fall injuries caused by inadequate snow removal. This applies only when the accumulation of snow or ice is caused by natural conditions. Hazards that are created by property owners may subject them to liability for accidents and injuries. Hazardous conditions caused by an accumulation of snow and ice that result from the failure to maintain other features of the property may place liability of the slip and fall accident on the owner of the property.
Illinois law does not require commercial properties to remove snow and ice from their premises. Unless commercial property owners play a part in creating the hazards, they are not liable for slip and fall injuries caused by natural winter weather conditions. For people injured on commercial properties, liability for winter slip and fall injuries can be difficult to prove. Chicago slip and fall lawyers must consider certain factors in determining liability for the fall:
- Proximity to the building
- Weather conditions at the time of the injury
- Slope and levelness of the surface where the fall occurred
- Presence of salt or snow piles on the ground
- Outdoor lighting levels