Winter is almost here but the temperatures are already dipping well below freezing. Snow and ice are always a possibility once the cold weather has arrived. A slip on snow or ice can mean serious injuries including fractures, dislocations and bruising to the wrists, shoulders, and ankles. There is the potential for medical care costs and/or lost wages due to time off of work. If you have slipped on ice or snow on someone else’s property you may be wondering if you can sue for damages. Slip and fall personal injury laws vary from state to state but if you have experienced a legitimate slip and fall injury do not hesitate to pursue an injury case against the property owners.
A slip and fall injury case falls under premises liability. Premises liability is an area of negligent torts that holds a public or private property owner responsible for acts or omissions in care of their property that lead to an injury. A slip and fall accident that happens on private property is typically a more complicated case.
An owner of a store, for example, owes a duty of care to his customers that he will use all reasonable care to protect his customers from injury on the store premises.
Common hazards that can lead to valid slip and fall accidents include:
- A wet floor without proper warning signage
- Products stacked high on a shelf that fall on the customer
- Broken doors or shelving
- Boxes stacked in the middle of a shopping aisle
- Icy or snowy parking lots*
*In Washington, store owners are not legally required to remove snow and ice that are naturally accumulated but if they choose to remove it, it cannot be done in a negligent manner.
Top 10 Slip & Fall Safety Tips in Snowy & Icy Conditions
A slip and fall on snow or ice can cause a serious injury, especially if you fall on concrete. Winter months can see a ten-fold increase in emergency room visits due to outdoor slip and fall accidents in icy conditions. Be aware that black ice is hard to see so a surface can look clear when it isn’t and that many slips and falls happen on front steps to your house or while walking a path to your car.
If you can, just stay home but if you are forced to go outside follow these 10 safety tips:
1. Walk with slow, deliberate, short steps with your knees slightly bent; do not jog in the ice!
2. Wear shoes with rubber soles or add shoe ice grippers around your shoes.
3. Wear bright clothing and reflective clothing if it is dark.
4. Bring a flashlight to light the path if it is dark.
5. Do not wear anything on your face that could restrict your vision.
6. Walk with your hands out of your pockets and wear gloves so you will be more likely to break your fall if you do slip.
7. Watch for overhead dangers such as hanging icicles.
8. If provided, use a handrail when descending or ascending steps.
9. Walk on a footpath or if there isn’t a footpath then walk on the right side of the road toward oncoming traffic.
10. Consider using a walking stick or ski pole.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!