Ah, Winter. If you’re a native Chicagoan (or Midwesterner in general), then you’ve not just lived through our brutal below freezing temperatures and many feet of snow… you’ve braved them. While just the thought of stepping out into the winter wasteland is enough to want to stay home until Spring, what’s even worse is going outside and slipping on an unplowed sidewalk, or worse – ice.
With the sheer volume of days filled with snow and subsequent ice pools, it should come as no surprise that slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury claims. What’s even more interesting is that the property owner is usually not responsible. But there are certain circumstances when they are, and it’s important to get the facts straight before taking legal action.
What are Chicago business owners’ responsibilities this winter?
If the location where the slip and fall accident occurred is privately owned, it’s the property owner’s responsibility to hire and coordinate snow removal services. They must provide reasonable care and take care of snow and ice in a timely manner. If they have done that, it’s hard to prove negligence and that they are responsible for a slip and fall accident.
There are certain circumstances where snow and ice become hazards, such as a parking lot with ice that unfreezes and then refreezes in a manner that becomes dangerous. A similar example is where icicles accumulate on a roof and drip down, refreezing and becoming a hazard on the ground where someone could slip and fall. In general, a property must undergo consistent routine maintenance with regards to winter weather conditions. A failure to take care of circumstances like these would likely prove negligence on the property owner’s behalf. If a property owner is aware of these conditions and does nothing about them, that’s clear proof of negligence.
What are my responsibilities this winter?
Your own negligence could take away from the damages you may be entitled to in a slip and fall accident this winter. Just as a property owner must exercise reasonable care, so must you. Take these simple precautions to show that an accident was not your fault:
- Wear proper footwear, such as snow boots. As long as the footwear you use has proper traction, that’s ideal.
- Navigate uneven terrain with care. Take note of inconsistencies in the ground.
- Use handrails where available.
If you’ve taken the aforementioned precautions, your case for negligence in a slip and fall accident will be much stronger.
What do I need to prove negligence?
If you’ve taken proper precautions and still have a slip and fall accident outside this winter, make sure you do the following:
- Take pictures of the conditions of the area in which you fell
- Record witness statements if possible
Basically, make sure you document the event as accurately as possible. You’ll also want to take care in not waiting long to take action. If the property owner is the government, time is especially of the essence.
It helps to have someone in your corner who knows the way the law works in slip and fall accidents. You may be entitled to damages in several different areas:
- Cost of medical bills
- Lost wages if work was missed
- Pain and suffering
- Negative impact on regular activities, such as an inability to go to the gym, run errands, etc.
Call Therman Law at (312) 588-1900 or fill out the contact form on our website for a free consultation and to determine a plan of action if you have suffered a slip and fall accident outside this winter.