Slip and fall accidents can happen any time of year, however, as we drift into the winter months, the added elements tend to increase the frequency with which we encounter these claims. It is inevitable that snow, sleet and/or ice will soon cover driveways, sidewalks and stairs, creating potential hazards to pedestrians if the proper care is not exercised.
As a pedestrian, it is important to fully understand your rights if you should find yourself injured as a result of a slip and fall accident. Depending on the situation, you may qualify for payment of medical expenses, lost wages while you are recovering from your injuries, compensation for permanent disability and even compensation for pain and suffering. Hyberg, White & Mann is here to help you through each step of the process.
“Duty of Care”
As a general rule, property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises save and hazard free. This includes keeping walkways, driveways, parking lots, and other common areas clear of ice and snow. Depending on the type of property involved (i.e. Commercial Property, Residential Property or Government Property), and the category of pedestrian (i.e. invitee or licensee), there are specific legal standards that must be established to prove liability on the part of the property owner and/or his insurance carrier.
- For invitees, who are people that provide the property owner with a material benefit such as shoppers in a supermarket or hotel guest, the property owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the invitee’s safety. He must take such steps as are reasonable and prudent to correct or give warning of hazardous conditions or defects actually known to him (or his employees), and of hazardous conditions or defects which he (or his employees) by the exercise of reasonable care, could discover.
- For licensees, who are known as social guests, the property owner has a duty to warn the licensee/social guest of any dangerous conditions of which the owner had actual knowledge and of which the guest is unaware.
As you can see, the law is not clear-cut. As is often the case, the Courts will evaluate the facts of each situation and apply those facts to established statutes and case-law before making any determination.
If you are injured as the result of a slip and fall accident due to winter weather, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. There are important notice requirements that must be met, including a 90-day Tort Claims Notice should the accident happen on public property. In addition to the notice requirements, it is vital to take photographs of the accident scene in the condition it was in when you fell, identify witnesses, take witness statements, and establish medical diagnoses by obtaining medical treatment.
If you were injured and would like to investigate a slip and fall injury claim, please call Hyberg, White & Mann at (609) 407-1000 or visit www.hwmlaw.com
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