What You Need to Know about Slip & Fall Accidents
Winter can be a beautiful and magical time of year, but lurking under the beauty are hidden dangers. At the Law Offices of Dworkin and Maciariello, we receive countless calls a day asking about the legal implications of slipping and falling on ice and snow.
Parking lots and sidewalks are common places to slip, although it can happen anywhere. Before we discuss the types of scenarios where someone could get injured, it is important to understand the legal terminology that is used to determine a case involving water, snow, and ice. We also want to stress that these are general scenarios, and if you have questions about a slip and fall, please feel free to contact us.
Natural Accumulation refers to water, snow, or ice, that is present through natural means like precipitation. In Illinois, there is a Natural Accumulation Rule, if someone were to slip and fall on water, snow or ice, on a business’s property and tries to seek legal action for their injury, they must prove that the business owned them a duty to prevent the situation. In Illinois, if an accumulation is on the property through unnatural means, that is where the business may be held liable. For example, if snow melted on a roof, and went down the gutter system and later froze into ice and someone slipped, that would be an unnatural accumulation.
The Premises Liability Act means that property owners are responsible for keeping their property in a reasonable condition and they owe a duty of care to prevent foreseeable hazards. If the owner knows a hazard exist, they must either warn you of the danger or fix it. If they fail to do so, they could be held liable. An example of a hazard would be a defective staircase or oily floors. Slipping on a wet floor that was recently mopped and has no sign up to alert a guest that the floor is wet may also fall under Premises Liability.
There are several categories and places where slip and fall accidents can occur:
We’ve all been there, in a coffee shop or restaurant, where everyone has snow on their boots, making the ground wet. Usually, the owner is not liable for a fall from tracked-in water. The owner should place a sign warning of a wet floor, as per the premises liability act, but the tracked in water is considered a natural accumulation.
Private and Government Property:
- An example of private property is a parking lot owned by a business, and the Natural Accumulation rule applies to private property. If the lot has an unnatural accumulation and there is an accident, then the owner can be held liable.
- Government property examples would be a government parking lot or city sidewalk. Government’s have immunity, meaning unlike private property, they may not face legal charges. For circumstances involving government property, each incident requires an individual case review.
Slipping and falling at work
If the accident occurs in an area exclusive to employees, such as an employee parking lot or break area, the employee most likely has a case. Even if the employee hasn’t clocked in yet, the employer is liable. If the accident occurs in an area that is used by both customers and employees, like a grocery store aisle, there is less chance of an employee having a case because the unfavorable conditions may not be a direct result of the company’s err.
Documenting a Slip & Fall
It is imperative to document your case thoroughly and as close to the time of the slip-and-fall as possible. Take clear photos of the incident and make sure to document what the area looked like around the accident in the photos. If there are any witnesses to your fall, gather their contact information and ask to write down how they saw you fall. If you feel that you have been injured it is vital to seek medical attention immediately. Medical records help your case and corroborate how the fall relates to your injury.
If you believe you are a victim of a personal injury, or have a workers’ compensation dispute, don’t hesitate to call our law firm for a free case assessment at 888-979-2070.