Cold and dark conditions aren’t the only unpleasant part of winter.
In the cold weather, even the lightest precipitation or the smallest puddle
can become a significant hazard. When property owners fail to appreciate
the dangers that ice and snow can create, something as simple as crossing
a parking lot or walking down a sidewalk becomes a potentially dangerous
task for anyone who attempts it. However, the degree of responsibility
property owners and lessees have is not always clear.
When those in possession of real property open it up to the public for
their own purposes (such as when businesses invite customers into their
stores) they have a high duty to keep that property free of hazards that
are either known or reasonably discoverable. In the case of snow and ice,
the scope of this obligation depends on the nature of the slipperiness:
- In the case of natural accumulation such as from falling or drifting snow,
property owners have a duty to take action within a reasonable period
of time. Obviously, property owners cannot be expected to keep their walkways
free from slippery conditions in the middle of a snow fall. But if they
allow slippery conditions to remain for an unreasonable period, they may
- In the case of unnaturally occurring slippery conditions, property owners
have a greater duty. When a condition of the property, such as a depression
that allows water to pool or a leaky pipe, creates the slick spot, property
owners are expected to be more proactive, based on the supposition that
the owner should have known of that condition and could have taken steps
to prevent it from creating a dangerous slick spot.
In the case of public sidewalks within municipal limits, property owners
or lessors generally have an obligation to keep clear the sidewalks that
abut their properties. This means that if a local business fails to clear
its sidewalk within a reasonable time after a snow storm, that business
may be responsible if a pedestrian falls while walking past.
Slips on ice and snow are capable of producing serious and permanent injuries.
But assigning blame and responsibility is not always straightforward.
An experienced Collegeville
slip and fall lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your accident to determine who
may be liable for your injuries.
Schedule your free consultation with Mayerson Injury Law, P.C. today!