Who Is Liable for Injuries in a Slip and Fall Accident on Snow or Ice?

Winter is here, and with it comes snow, ice, black ice, sleet and other dangerous weather conditions. What happens when you have a slip and fall accident on snow or ice? Can you hold the property owner responsible? Depending on the location and circumstances of your accident, a slip and fall attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your injuries.

An overview of slip and fall accidents

Slip and fall accidents are a type of premises liability case, which is in turn a negligence claim. The plaintiff must show that a property owner or manager knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on their property, and that the condition was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. That means that if you simply slip and fall on the snow or ice, but do not suffer any significant injuries, you probably won’t be able to recover against the property owner. Every element must be proven in order to recover.

Duty of care and winter weather

A landlord or property owner has a reasonable duty of care to keep their premises free of hazards, and to fix any hazards that crop up in a reasonable amount of time. Snow and ice on walkways, parking lots and other publicly accessible spaces can fall under this category.

Generally, property owners deal with this by hiring someone to plow the parking lots and roadways, salt the walkways and otherwise mitigate the hazards. If they’re regularly caring for their property, they should be able to show that they met their reasonable duty of care.

Just because you slip and fall on ice or snow doesn’t automatically mean the property owner was negligent. Courts expect plaintiffs to take appropriate precautions when walking anywhere in the winter. If they acted without caution, their damages may be reduced according to the rules of comparative negligence. In fact, it could bar recovery altogether.

Your slip and fall case may be subject to the “reasonable accumulation” rule as well. Obviously, property owners can’t control the weather, and Pennsylvania can see some dramatic winter storms. Since it’s impracticable to have a snowplow working 24/7 to clear snow, the court will consider how much snow and ice accumulated and whether that was reasonable for the location and weather conditions.

Slip and fall accidents on snow and ice are a common danger in these winter months, so be sure to watch where you’re walking. As you can see, although the property owner has a duty to mitigate the snow and ice as much as possible, no one can keep up with every flake that falls. By wearing sturdy shoes with good traction, walking in illuminated areas and stepping carefully, you’ll be more likely to recover if an accident happens.

Rosato Law Offices is here for slip and fall accident victims. If you’ve been in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to call an attorney right away. When you reach out to us, we’ll schedule a consultation to review your case.