No matter how careful you are, you could find yourself doing your holiday shopping one minute and injured in a fall on an icy surface the next minute. Property owners owe a duty of care to their customers to keep walkways and parking lots clear of ice, but some owners are neglectful. If you have been injured on ice and plan to file a claim, here is some more information on slip and fall on icy surfaces claims.
Understanding Reasonable Accumulation and Duty of Care
Some states have the rule that does not hold property owners liable for injuries occurring in natural accumulation. This means if you fall on a surface right before or after the accumulation, you will not have a case. Property owners can be held liable for unnatural accumulation resulting from piles of snow or not clearing ice the owner knew about in a reasonable time period.
Be aware the duty of care expected for a homeowner isn't always the same for a business owner. For example, if you are going for morning stroll at 7:00 a.m. and fall on a residential sidewalk, the owner would not be liable. It would be unreasonable to expect the homeowner to have cleared walkways at 7:00.am.
However, if the homeowner left the danger for a day or two, you could have a case. A business owner expecting multiple customers at 7:00 am couldn't deny the possibility of injury in wintry conditions.
Proving the Injury
You will need evidence to prove the property owner is at fault.
- See your doctor. Medical records are important evidence to connect your fall to the property owner's negligence. Inform the doctor you fell on ice so they will include that detail in your records.
- Take photos and videos. Get as many pictures and videos as you can of the icy area. Try to get pictures and video evidence proving other areas near the property where you got injured had been cleared. Don't wait to take pictures because the slippery conditions may be cleared and you will loose that evidence.
- Get independent witness testimonies. Independent witnesses have no financial interest in your case, their statements are more credible than testimony from friends or family. Ask them to give written statements describing the incident and conditions.
Don't delay filing personal claims because all states have statute of limitations which give a time limit for filing injury claims. It is wise to get a personal injury attorney if you fell on government property or have serious long-term injuries.