When snow and ice are in the weather forecast, you can be certain of a few things. There will be ecstatic shrieks from youngsters (along with groans from parents) when they hear that schools are closed. And there will be accidents, both on the road and on sidewalks and other seemingly safe places that become dangerous with ice and melted snow.
If you slip, fall, and wind up hurt because of the winter conditions, you may wonder who should be responsible for your injuries. Here’s what you need to know.
Winter Accidents in Commercial Settings
Whether they’re panic-buying provisions of bread, milk, and toilet paper at a grocery store, leaving the workplace, or heading into a hotel, people will be out and about in winter weather. Every time you venture out in bad weather is an opportunity to have an accident.
Weather-related slip and falls frequently happen in parking lots or sidewalks of commercial establishments. Property owners must exercise reasonable care to maintain the safety of the areas where the public and their customers are reasonably expected to be. When the temperatures drop, snow falls, and ice accumulates, property owners must periodically inspect their property and address the wintry conditions in a reasonable time to minimize the risk of slip-and-fall injuries.
Sometimes property owners will retain snow and ice removal contractors to keep parking lots and sidewalks clear. If a property owner or its contractors fail to anticipate the dangers or fail to reasonably maintain safe conditions, this can amount to negligence.
Slips and Falls on Residential Properties
Homeowners get to enjoy the pristine glimmer of snow blanketing their property without needing to immediately grab a shovel. That’s because while homeowners have a duty to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition, they don’t have the same duties as commercial property owners or landlords to warn or remove “open and obvious” conditions that pose a danger, like snow and ice.
Pedestrian Winter-Related Accidents
Pedestrians brave enough to face the wintry elements not only face blasts of cold air, ice, and snow but also have a duty to act reasonably when doing so. If they get injured and want to file a claim against the property owner, a court will study their actions to determine whether they acted carefully and reasonably under the conditions.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Winter-Related Slip-and-Fall
If you’re injured in a winter-related slip-and-fall, you may be able to recover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Even if the property belongs to your neighbor, friend, or family member, you can bring a claim to recover from their insurance company. Here’s what you need to do:
- Seek medical treatment. Visit the doctor and treat your injuries. Keep copies of all paperwork, including medical bills, X-rays, and other documents and correspondence.
- Report the accident. Tell the property owner about the accident. Be careful about what you say about the accident though. Stick to the location and basics. Don’t attempt to assign blame or take responsibility for the accident.
- Document it. Act quickly, if possible, to take pictures or make notes of the conditions at the time of the accident. In the winter, the property’s location and condition may change from when the accident happened. To support your claim, you’ll need accurate evidence of the conditions at the time of the accident.
Finally, hiring a lawyer is the best way to protect your rights. Knowledgeable legal counsel will be able to help you through the process and maximize your recovery.
The personal injury lawyers at Hunter & Everage are here to help you with any slip-and-fall accidents that happen in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Call or email us today for a no-obligation case assessment.