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Despite the relatively mild temperatures thus far, and a forecast of a gentler winter than a year ago, the snow and ice will still likely reach the Chicagoland area at some point. When it does, it will be accompanied by an increased risk of slip and fall accidents, as walkways, parking lots, and floors are often much more dangerous with the addition of slush and freezing conditions. Every year, thousands of people are injured in falls caused by icy sidewalks and steps, and while many result in minor bumps and bruises, some are extremely serious and can cause problems that last a lifetime. If you have been injured in snowy weather on another’s property, it is important to know what recourse you may have.
Recovery in a winter-related slip and fall case can be challenging. Illinois courts have established that a landowner is not obligated “to remove natural accumulations of snow, ice or meltwater water from their premises” as a general rule. This means that if you are getting out of your car in a parking lot during a snowstorm and the lot has not been plowed, there is no assumed negligence on the part of the property owner. However, you may have a cause for action if the design of the parking lot or walkway cause the snow or ice to accumulate in an unnatural manner and the unnatural accumulation was the cause of your accident.
It is possible, as well, for a property owner to make a winter weather situation even worse with poor or negligent maintenance practices. For example, if the property owner sent a staff member out to clear snow from the walkway, and, in doing so, created additional trip hazards, the property owner may be responsible for your injuries. Similarly, if piled-up snow from plow is creating additional meltwater, which subsequently freezes in a manner inconsistent with natural accumulation, and you slip on the ice, the property owner may have some liability.
You should also keep in mind that, as with any personal injury claim, if your own negligence is found to have contributed to your injuries, your compensable damages may be reduced accordingly. For example, if you were distracted by your cell phone and were not paying attention to your surroundings, you may be found partially to blame, regardless of the unnatural accumulation.
If you have been injured in any type of slip and fall accident, whether or not it was related to winter weather, contact an experienced DuPage County personal injury attorney. We will meet with you to discuss your case and help you explore all of your possible options for recovery. Call 630-920-8855 to schedule your free consultation today.