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Snow and Ice Accidents

Duty of Care

During the winter months in Chicago, as throughout much of the country, snow and ice are common occurrences. Of course, with these wintry conditions comes an increased risk of falling.

Slip and fall accidents due to snow and ice typically occur in parking lots or on sidewalks adjacent to businesses. In almost every locale throughout the country, property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care when it comes to maintaining these areas and making sure the snow and ice is removed promptly.

In many instances, property owners will contract with snow removal companies to keep their sidewalks and parking lots clear. However, whether the owner clears the snow and ice, or hires a company to do so, the owner has a duty of care to anticipate the danger posed by these conditions and to maintain the property accordingly.

Any injury claim will depend on whether the property owner’s conduct is considered to be reasonable after taking everything into consideration. Additionally, pedestrians have a duty to exercise reasonable care in these situations as well.  Failure to exercise reasonable care when walking in an area known (or it would be reasonable to expect) to be icy and/or snowy may reduce the recovery of, or even eliminate, the potential lawsuit.

What is Reasonable and the “Natural Accumulation” Rule 

When it comes to ice and snow removal, what is reasonable to expect from a property owner may depend on the property’s location. In other words, what is reasonable in New York is not going to be the same as what is reasonable in Georgia.

In Illinois, there is what is known as a “natural accumulation” rule, which relieves property owners of liability due to the natural accumulation of snow and ice­ – as long as the property owner does not interfere with the accumulation in a manner that causes an abnormal danger to exist. For example, a property owner might be liable if he or she piled excess snow close to a doorway where it melts and refreezes, causing a hazardous, icy condition to exist where people normally enter and exit a building.

Documenting Your Case 

Weather conditions change frequently, and snow and ice is often removed according to a pre-set schedule. Therefore, if you feel you have fallen due to the negligence of a property owner, it is important to document as much about the area where you fell as quickly as possible.

Take pictures if you are able or send someone to take pictures right away. This will help your attorney understand what the area looked like at the time you were injured. Be sure to write down everything after the accident, including any information from witnesses, to help your case. 

Shea Law Group

At Shea Law Group, we have extensive experience in premises liability cases, and we can help you understand your rights if you or someone you care about has been injured in a snow and ice accident. Give us a call at (877)-365-0040 to discuss your options with a dedicated premises liability lawyer.