Winters in Central Pennsylvania can bring a treacherous mix of weather including snow, ice, and freezing rain. These can lead to hazardous and dangerous conditions on sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. What happens when someone slips and falls on ice or snow? Who is responsible?
Business owners have a legal responsibility to keep their properties safe for employees, customers, and visitors. This legal obligation or duty is part of premises liability and requires businesses ensure properties are free from hazards or warn visitors of any risks. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for damages after a slip and fall injury accident.
Let’s take a look at who is responsible after a slip and fall on snow or ice, common injuries after a slip and fall, and steps you should take if you or a loved one is hurt in a slip and fall accident this winter season.
Liability for Falls on Snow or Ice
Winter weather slip and fall hazards are most common on sidewalks and in parking lots in commercial areas like shopping malls, grocery stores, and entertainment centers. Even a small amount of falling snow can make these areas slippery and become a risk for visitors or guests.
In Pennsylvania, a property owner has the legal responsibility to make sure their property is safe for visitors, even in the wintertime. When a winter storm brings snow or ice, property owners must make a reasonable effort to take action to remove any potential risks or hazards for visitors and guests.
This means the owner needs to inspect their property to identify slip hazards and remove snow or ice as soon as possible to reduce the risk of slips and falls. When a property owner fails to do this, they are failing to uphold their “duty of care.”
In premises liability cases, duty of care is extended to visitors or guests to the property. If a property owner fails to fulfill their duty of care, someone who slips and falls on the snow or ice may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
Members of the public also have a responsibility to exercise caution and reasonable care when walking in an area that is known to have hazards. For example, if you slip and fall on a sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm, determining liability may not be as easy since the property or store owner may not have had time to remove the snow and argue you were traveling at your own risk.
If you were injured in a slip and fall on snow or ice, determining liability can be challenging with Pennsylvania’s premises liability law. After a slip and fall accident, contact a personal injury attorney to help with your premises liability claim. Even if you think you do not have a case, talk to an attorney before settling with an insurance company.
Common Winter Slip and Fall Injuries
Slips and falls, especially ones on ice or snow, can cause severe injuries. When you hit the ground suddenly, you aren’t prepared to brace yourself or take preventative measures to protect yourself from injury. Here are the most common injuries after a slip and fall:
The force of a slip and fall can easily break bones. Broken arms, fractured elbows, and even fractured hips can happen after a slip and fall on ice or snow.
When someone slips on ice or snow, oftentimes the accident victim falls and their head collides with the ground or an object (for example, a car in a parking lot) leading to a concussion.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) affect how the brain works. While concussions are a form of a TBI, they are considered mild. Moderate and severe TBIs can be harder to recover from and can even cause permanent damage.
Back and Spinal Cord Injuries
After a fall, accident victims may end up with a back or spinal cord injury. The force of a fall on snow or ice can dislodge vertebrae, damage discs, injure nerves, and even cause partial or full paralysis.
Cuts and Lacerations
Cuts and lacerations are common injuries after a slip and fall, particularly on ice. These injuries can require stitches or sutures and can be painful.
If you or a loved one are a slip and fall accident victim, you may be facing a long road to recovery and are entitled to compensation for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation to help with your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Before settling with the insurance company, contact a lawyer for a consultation.
Steps to Take After a Slip and Fall on Snow or Ice
If you’re injured after falling on ice or snow and the property owner failed to uphold their duty of care, you have a right to file a personal injury claim. Slip and fall accident injuries often result in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Immediately after a slip and fall, here are steps to take to protect your rights:
Seek Medical Attention
Slip and fall injuries – especially on snow or ice – can be serious. Even if you feel you are not injured, seek medical attention. It’s important that a physician or medical professional document your injuries in your medical records. Your medical records will be used as evidence in your personal injury case.
Report the Accident
Report the accident to the property owner, store manager, or the person in charge at the time of your accident. Be as thorough as possible and explain where and when the accident occurred. Ask for a copy of their report for your files.
Take Photos & Document the Accident
Good, solid evidence helps make winning a personal injury case easier. Take photos of the snow-covered walkway or icy parking lot where you fell. Make sure the photos are of the exact location where the injury accident occurred. Write down as many details that you remember including the date and time the accident occurred even the shoes and clothing you were wearing. All of the details can be used in your case.
Talk to Witnesses
Did anyone see your slip and fall? If so, talk to witnesses and ask them for their contact information. They may be able to corroborate your account of the slip and fall accident.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge to help you receive the compensation you deserve after a slip and fall in the winter. Proving negligence can be difficult, especially when you are up against an insurance company with its own team of attorneys. Get someone on your side!
Personal Injury Law Firm in York, Pa.
At Dale E. Anstine Personal Injury Law Firm, we understand how confusing and intimidating the legal system can be after a slip and fall injury accident. Accident victims may not know where to turn for help, what steps to take in a legal case, and how to prove liability to receive maximum compensation. That’s where we can help.
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident due to ice or snow, or any other reason, reach out to us today for a free consultation. Our attorneys specialize in personal injury accident cases and know how the legal system works. We will work hard to get you the compensation you deserve to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
We are available 24/7 and never change a fee unless we win for you. Insurance companies have a team of attorneys on their side, and you deserve the same representation!