It’s no surprise that as the weather gets colder slip and fall accidents become more likely. Icy conditions, snowy boots, and hidden dangers all conspire to cause more people to slip, trip, or fall and suffer injuries. The injuries might be relatively minor, such as a strain or sprain, but they could be more serious, like a head injury, broken hip, or death.
Whenever such accidents and injuries occur on property controlled by someone else, that party might be liable for damages. If you are injured in an accident caused by dangerous conditions this winter, an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer can help you hold liable parties accountable. Let’s take a closer look at several of the most common ways that winter weather causes injury accidents.
The people who own respective properties are required to make them reasonably safe for any visitors. Walkways and sidewalks might be owned privately, or they might be owned by a local unit of government. Whoever owns and controls it has a duty of care to ensure the walkways are reasonably safe – or that they at least acted reasonably to maintain their safety by removing snow and adding ice melt, rock salt, or sand. Local units of government likewise must take reasonable measures to make their sidewalks safe for public use.
Slippery Parking Areas
Parking lots are especially busy during the holiday season. The owners and operators of those parking lots are responsible for keeping them reasonably safe, which can be challenging during a winter storm. Still, they have to take reasonable precautions to make them safe for visitors who park there and walk to stores and other places of business. Those precautions should include regularly removing snow and applying ice melt, rock salt, or sand to give pedestrians some type of traction.
Wet boots and shoes carry snow and slush that people knock off when entering a store or another location. That snow and slush will melt and create a wet area that can be very slippery. It’s important for those who control property to take reasonable steps to caution visitors about potentially dangerous wet and slippery floors and do their best to mop up any messes. Laying down a large mat also can increase safety and contain the water.
Premises Liability and General Negligence Liability
Most people are aware of premises liability and the duty of care that requires the people who control property to maintain reasonably safe premises. Failure to do so could lead to liability if a dangerous condition exists that causes someone to slip, trip, or fall and suffer an injury. Michigan’s premises liability law also allows premises liability victims to seek damages for general negligence as well as premises liability. Premises liability claims arise from dangerous conditions, but general negligence claims arise from the conduct that contributed to the premises’ liability, which could happen when the weather turns bad but nothing is done to protect visitors.