It’s wintertime and snow and ice are coming. So, if you or a family member are injured in a Slip and Fall accident in Pennsylvania on snow or ice, do you have a legal right to be compensated for your injuries?
As an ethical Personal Injury Lawyer, and not an Ambulance Chaser, I’ll tell you that sometimes you just do NOT have any legal claims, even if you are seriously injured. Sometimes a Slip and Fall on snow or ice is just an accident and bad luck. Other times, it’s sad to say but it’s your own fault that you fell and got hurt, so you don’t have any legal claims.
On the other hand, under certain circumstances you may have a legal claim and a right to be compensated for your injuries because someone else failed to fulfill his/her legal responsibility to look out for your safety.
With those two possibilities in mind, let’s go over some important concepts of Pennsylvania Law on Slip and Falls on snow and ice.
What Makes a Good Slip and Fall Case?
In order do you have a valid personal injury case you need to prove two things. Number one you need to prove that someone else had a legal duty to look out for your safety and was careless in failing to fulfill that duty. Second you need to prove that you were not careless yourself or if you were, you were less than 51 percent responsible for causing your injury.
No case or It’s Your Fault
First let’s talk about the situations in which you probably don’t have a case or it was your fault.
If you slip and fall on ice on your own property, it’s very unlikely that you have a legal case. However, if the property that you fell on was controlled by a landlord or a homeowners association, then that may not be true.
Also, if you choose to venture out during the middle of a snow or ice storm happen to slip and fall, then it’s very unlikely that you have a legitimate legal case. Pennsylvania law recognizes that it is nearly impossible for a property owner to keep its property free from snow and ice at all times, particularly during the middle of a storm. Accordingly, property owners are given a reasonable period of time after the storm has ended to clear the snow and treat the ice.
In another scenario, if you go out days after a snowstorm realize that place that you are walking on has icy conditions and you voluntarily choose to continue walking despite recognizing the dangerous condition, you are probably assuming the risk of any injury and therefore would not have a legal claim if you fell.
You May Have a Claim for Falling on Snow or Ice If….
Viable claims after you fall and are injured on snow and ice are situations in which somebody else had a responsibility to maintain that property and they failed to do a reasonable job of snow clearing and treating any icy patches.
Property owners are given a pass during the snowstorm and can wait until it ends to do a reasonable job of clearing the snow and treating the ice. If they do not do so and allow the snow to remain and develop dangerous walking conditions (Hills and Ridges), then they can be found liable for slip and fall accidents.
Property owners also have a duty to treat icy patches which form after the snow and ice melt on sidewalks or parking lots. If you happen to slip and fall on one of those patches from melted and refrozen snow, you may have a legitimate claim.
Finally, a property owner has a duty to make sure that their property is properly designed and maintained so that it does not cause icy conditions on sidewalks and parking lots. Examples of negligent design or maintenance include things like improper grading of the land which allows water to flow onto the sidewalk or parking lot and freeze forming icy conditions, roof systems that drop water onto walking surfaces or gutter and drain systems which allow water to accumulate on areas where people will be walking.
In my practice, I’ve had several serious injuries occur because the property owner did not take the time to treat icy patches after they melted and refroze or had a defective gutter or a drainage system which created icy conditions even though there had been no recent snowstorm.
The bottom line is that if you slip and fall and are seriously injured on snow or ice you may or may not have a legal claim to be fairly compensated. Under Pennsylvania law, your claim for compensation includes medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and any negative impact on your life and activities.
Life is full of unpreventable and unfortunate accidents in which you are not entitled to any recourse. However, other times, someone else has dropped the ball and not lived up to their legal responsibilities and therefore should be held accountable and you should be made whole for your preventable injuries.
The good news is that nearly all property owners have insurance to cover Slip and Fall claims so they will be paying out of their personal assets to make up for the mistake that they made.
If you have any other questions about Slip and Fall accidents or any other Car Accident or Personal Injury matters, please do not hesitate to contact me at 610-840-0124 or [email protected] or visit my Website TimRayneLaw.com.
Tim Rayne is a Slip and Fall, Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer with the Pennsylvania law firm MacElree Harvey. For over 25 years Tim has been helping accident victims receive fair compensation from insurance companies and juries. Tim has law offices in Kennett Square and West Chester Pennsylvania and meets clients at their homes or virtually via Zoom or FaceTime.