Increased risk of slip and fall injuries during the winter season

Winter in Pennsylvania brings images of snowball fights, ice staking, cross-country skiing and other snow-dusted activities. It can be a time of family and fun, however, winter conditions also make it a dangerous time for slip and falls due to snow and icy surfaces.

This is no surprise for those that are used to PA winter weather. Falling on an icy sidewalk might seem par for the course. However, serious injuries can occur as a result of a slip and fall. There are steps we can all take to try to stay safe and minimize weather-related accidents, but property owners are also responsible for keeping their premises safe and to remove ice and snow accumulation from walkways to reduce danger. When this does not happen and a fall takes place, the property owner may be held liable for the resulting injuries.

Winter weather safety tips

During the slippery months of winter, most people would prefer not to fall on ice. While a fall cannot be prevented under some conditions, here are some tips to try to avoid a painful accident:

  • Wear shoes or boots with rubber treads
  • Walk slowly with short steps if ice is visible
  • Wipe shoes indoors and look out for wet areas once inside
  • Be careful getting in and out of a vehicle in parking lots that may be icy
  • Keep your hands empty when walking to protect yourself in case of a fall
  • Remain observant of your surroundings, avoid distracted walking (eyes glued to your Smartphone or other electronic devices)

Generally, the best offense in the fight against weather-related accidents is to stay alert and mindful of the seasonal conditions. However, when slippery conditions are due to poor maintenance of sidewalks, parking lots, driveways or walkways, the property owner may be responsible.

When is a property owner responsible for a fall?

Property owners have the duty to keep their premises free of hazardous conditions and safe. In the winter, this includes snow and ice removal. The property can be business or residential, which includes homeowners. Under the legal theory of premises liability, a property owner may be held liable for injuries resulting from a fall if one of the following occurred:

  • The unsafe or hazardous condition was caused by the property owner
  • The property owner should have known about the safety issue or knew about the safety issue and ignored it or did nothing to rectify the dangerous condition
  • The dangerous condition caused an injury

A property owner who failed to maintain safe conditions may also be found liable for compensation for resulting injuries. Compensation may include payment for medical bills, future medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you have been injured due to a slip and fall this winter, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. Contact McDonald & MacGregor, LLC to make sure your best interests are protected. We can discuss your situation, answer your questions and help you determine the best course of action.