Can Chicago Property Owners Be Sued for Winter Slip-and-Fall Accidents?
You can never tell what will happen with the winter weather in Chicago. However, the following historical monthly snowfall statistics should give you a pretty good picture of what to expect when it comes to snow and ice accumulation during these months:
As we find ourselves immersed in this wintry weather, it is important to know that you can hold property owners and managers (landowners and landlords) in Chicago and other parts of Illinois legally accountable if you are injured in a certain type of slip-and-fall accident that involves snow and ice.
Determining Liability for Winter Slip-and-Fall Accidents
The liability of a property owner or manager in a winter weather-related slip-and-fall accident generally will depend on whether there is evidence that the owner or manager negligently failed to address a hazard that resulted from an “unnatural” accumulation of snow and ice.
Unfortunately, these dangerous accumulations can occur in parking lots, walkways, entrances, hallways and stairs in a wide variety of businesses, including shopping malls, grocery stores and banks.
The Snow and Ice Removal Act in Illinois does not require property owners and managers to clear sidewalks. They are also not required to remove a “natural accumulation” of ice or snow. In this sense, the Act protects landowners and landlords from liability in many slip-and-fall cases.
The question of whether the snow and ice accumulation was “natural” or “unnatural” in a case may depend on factors such as whether there were piles of snow that had been heaped up when cleaning sidewalks or whether the building design impacted how the snow and ice formed.
As an article in the Journal of the DuPage County Bar Association points out, case law supports an argument that water melting out of the base of mounds of snow can create icy conditions that are likely to be considered “unnatural.”
The facts of a case must be carefully investigated to determine the actual cause of the dangerous conditions. The evidence may show that, indeed, the negligence of a property or owner or landlord caused an “unnatural” accumulation to exist. That owner or manager could, in turn, be held liable for any losses suffered in a slip-and-fall.
Types of Damages Paid in Winter Fall Accidents
A slip-and-fall accident can result in extensive damages. This depends on the degree of injuries suffered by a victim. There is a high risk of serious or fatal injuries, including brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, fractures and severe soft tissue injuries that can require many months to heal.
Victims may be paid for economic damages, including all medical costs, rehabilitation, lost wages, future estimated financial losses and more. Non-economic damages may be recovered as well, including compensation for pain and suffering and loss of quality of life. Families that have lost a loved one in a slip-and-fall accident may file a wrongful death claim and seek proper damages.
A review of any winter weather slip-and-fall claim should be undertaken with the help of an attorney who understands how the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act can factor into these cases. A lawyer will also know how to properly investigate this type of accident claim.
To learn more about liability for winter weather-related slip-and-fall accidents, contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., by reaching out to us online or through our toll-free phone number.