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Slip-and-Fall on an Icy Sidewalk: Can You Sue?

By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 11, 2014 10:08 AM

Icy sidewalks routinely become an increasing threat as winter closes its icy grip on the fading days of fall. The average person is likely to slip and fall on icy sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, or walkways -- possibly causing serious injury in a slip and fall accident.

While you may think of sidewalks as a part of a city or local government's responsibility, private property owners may actually be the ones responsible for your frozen misstep. Being responsible for property you own is called "premises liability."

So can you sue over slip-and-fall injuries on icy sidewalks? Can the injured party sue you for the alleged dangerous conditions in a slip and fall case?

Reasons to Sue Local Governments: Winter Weather Conditions

Many of the sidewalks in your town or municipality will be the property of the local government, which will be held responsible for maintaining these sidewalks in a reasonable manner. This is called "duty of care" and applies to most homeowners, businesses, and federal buildings.

The government can face a fall claim for injuries and medical expenses that are caused by its negligence. Typically negligence is considered:

  • Failure to salt and/or plow the sidewalks
  • No black ice or ice removal plan for parking lots
  •  No snow removal attempts for sidewalks or walkways
  • Not having a company or plan to handle snow removal in the winter months

Keep in mind that reasonable care can mean the owner of the property has a reasonable amount of time to clear snow and ice. This can often be 24-48 hours but varies by state.

You can sue for these types of situations, but there are some extra steps required.

Suing Local Governments For Icy Sidewalks

In order to pursue any claim against the government (local, state, or federal), you'll need to first file a claim with your insurance company and document your injuries and medical bills. Then file a notice of claim with the appropriate government agency. In many cases, filing this notice will give the government anywhere from three to six months to respond to your icy-sidewalk injury claim.

If the government fails to respond, settle, or take responsibility for your injury, you may then file a lawsuit against that government entity for your injury damages.

Suing Private Property Owners

Both residential and commercial property owners can be sued for the icy sidewalks which are under their control. Although the law treats business visitors slightly differently than house guests, both residential and commercial property owners owe their invitees the duty to take reasonable steps to keep the sidewalks safe. And depending on the circumstances, it may be completely reasonable to inspect and/or clear the sidewalks of dangerous ice.

Of course, the property owner (government or otherwise) may try to claim that you were trespassing or had no consent to be on that icy path. Further still, the land owner may try to assert that you were acting negligently when you injured yourself on the icy patch.

Not to worry; an experienced personal injury attorney can help evaluate your icy sidewalk case no matter what the circumstances.

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