Every winter, walking around becomes dangerous for people in Chicago and other areas in Illinois. Snow, ice and slush often accumulate and cause slippery conditions in areas such as sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, stairways, building entrances and store aisles. People can easily fall on these slick surfaces and sustain serious injuries.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a slip and fall on snow and ice, you should speak with a lawyer today in order to learn more about your legal rights and options. If a property owner’s negligence caused the incident to happen, you could be eligible to recover compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering and other damages.
For more than 30 years, the lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., have sought just compensation for those injured in slip and falls due to property owners’ careless and reckless handling of snow and ice on their property. Our experienced Chicago slip and fall attorneys know how to tackle the complex issues in these cases. Contact us today and let us provide a free review of your case.
Why Are Slip and Falls on Snow and Ice in Chicago So Serious?
Cold, freezing weather typically hits the Chicago area in the late fall and lingers through early spring. The low temperatures, snow and ice combine to create slick walking surfaces. You can encounter those dangerous conditions both inside and outside of homes and buildings. You can especially encounter them around entrances.
Most people find it hard to detect snow-and-ice-related hazards. For instance, a property owner may clear a sidewalk of snow – only to expose a patch of ice beneath it. Or temperatures may warm up during the day and turn the snow into puddles. However, when the mercury drops at night, those puddles can refreeze and become patches of ice.
If you unexpectedly encounter a dangerous condition caused by snow and ice, you can easily fall and hit the ground hard. Depending on the nature of the fall, you could suffer severe – typically to the head, wrist, hip, knee, leg or ankle. Some of the common injuries include:
- Severe sprains and strains
- Torn muscles, tendons and ligaments
- Nerve damage
- Herniated or ruptured discs (especially in the lower back)
- Concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injury.
If you or a loved one recently fell on snow or ice, you should seek medical attention immediately (if you have not already done so). A doctor can check you for injuries and start you on a course of treatment. If you wait too long to see a doctor, it could prolong your recovery – and may impact your legal claim against a property owner whose negligence caused your fall to happen.
Who Can Be Liable for Falls on Snow and Ice in Illinois?
As a general rule, people who own or occupy property in Illinois have no duty to remove from their property any natural accumulations of snow, ice or water. This is commonly called the “Natural Accumulation Rule.” As a result, you typically cannot sue a residential or commercial property owner if you suffer a fall due to a natural accumulation of snow, ice or melted snow or ice or due to a property owner’s failure to:
- Warn about a natural accumulation of snow, ice or water
- Clean up snow, ice or water tracked-in by visitors
- Provide mats or rugs for visitors to wipe their feet.
However, there are many exceptions to this general rule. In many different scenarios, you could be eligible to file a premises liability claim against a property owner or occupier after a slip and fall due to snow, ice or water on their property. Those scenarios include:
- Willful or wanton misconduct of a residential property owner: Under the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act, residential property owners and occupiers are generally shielded from liability if they negligently remove or try to remove snow or ice from sidewalks abutting their property. However, they can be held liable if a person suffers injury due to a snowy or icy condition on the sidewalks that results from “willful or wanton” misconduct.
- Commercial property owner’s negligent removal: You could have the right to bring a claim against a commercial property owner who caused an unnatural accumulation of snow, ice, or water due to negligent removal of snow or ice. For instance, the owner may have left piles of snow in a parking lot that melted during the day and froze in the evening hours, creating “black ice” patches.
- Negligent design or maintenance of the underlying pavement of the sidewalk or parking lot: If the faulty design or maintenance of the pavement causes an unnatural accumulation of snow, ice or water, the property owner or occupier could be liable. For instance, the slope of the parking lot or unrepaired holes or cracks in the pavement could create a dangerous, unnatural accumulation of snow and ice on the property. In some cases, liability may be based on unnatural accumulations of snow or ice caused by gutters, downspouts or roofs.
- Contract or lease: A contract or lease agreement may create a duty of a property owner or occupier to remove snow or ice. If the owner knows or reasonably should know that snow, ice or water has accumulated on the property and failed to address or warn about the hazard, the owner could potentially be held liable.
How Can a Chicago Slip and Fall Attorney Help You?
The ability to recover compensation after a slip and fall on snow or ice in Illinois depends on the circumstances of the case. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in this type of accident, you should consult with an experienced Chicago premises liability attorney from Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., as early as possible. Our law firm will:
- Conduct an immediate investigation of your slip and fall case
- Consult with experts such as architects, engineers or property maintenance specialists
- Review your medical records and consult with experts to determine the nature and extent of the injuries you have suffered
- Prepare a solid case for settlement negotiations and, if necessary, take your case to trial.
Our firm has a record that includes 238 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, including a recent $148 million verdict against the City of Chicago in a case involving premises liability issues. We can review the specific facts of your case and discuss all legal options available to you. Call or reach our personal injury lawyers online today to schedule a free consultation through our offices in Chicago and Waukegan.