Feeling Helpless After You Slipped and Fell on Ice?
The frigid temperatures are bad enough. You also think you’ve heard quite enough about blizzard conditions. The wind smacks you in the face as you head out the door. You make it to your car without issue. It’s been a day since the storm. Surely everyone has removed snow and ice. As you reach your destination and exit your vehicle, your feet slip beneath you. You can’t believe you’ve slipped and fallen on ice.
At that point, you could care less if someone christened the storm Stella or some other name. As you attempt to stand up, you find the pain is too intense. You also notice that your leg is twisted in an unnatural position. This isn’t exactly how you planned your day to start. Tears start to roll down your face as you feel a cascade of emotions. Why wasn’t the ice removed to prevent your fall? Certainly, someone is liable for your injuries.
Liability Claims Regarding Ice
Unfortunately, the picture we painted is not an uncommon one. People slip and fall on the ice whenever inclement weather hits. In some cases, the accidents were avoidable. When evaluating a fall down case in bad weather, these are some items investigated by an experienced premises liability attorney:
- Weather Conditions- What are the temperatures? When did precipitation stop?
- Accumulation– How many inches of snow or rain fell? In what period of time?
- Property Ownership – Who owns the property where you fell?
- Responsibility – Has the property owner assigned an outside vendor to shovel or chip away at ice? Is a tenant obligated to do so under a lease agreement?
You may wonder about the term “reasonable care” as it applies to liability claims. If you slipped and fell on ice, you may be confident that nothing was reasonable about the way the sidewalk or parking lot was cleared. Of course, that’s not necessarily true.
Let’s start with the owners of commercial premises. They have a responsibility to exhibit reasonable care for keeping their property and the abutting sidewalks free from dangerous conditions. Time runs from when they were aware of the unsafe situation or should have known about it. Again, let’s go back to reasonable care. At what point, would a reasonable and prudent person or entity feel it necessary to remove snow or ice for pedestrian safety?
New Jersey recognizes the natural accumulation rule as far as snow and ice. There might be a claim if a contractor’s attempts to remove snow or ice only made matters worse. Additionally, ignoring the dangerous condition is cause for concern.
Laws concerning natural accumulation and residential properties are different than those for businesses and other commercial properties. You should always speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine whether you have a cause of action.