Winter weather brings a mixture of snow, sleet, and ice that can make walking on sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots dangerous for everyone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 20,520 workplace slip and fall accidents due to ice, sleet, or snow in 2016 alone. These accidents caused a variety of injuries from minor sprains and strains to more serious head injuries and fractures.
In addition to the workplace, customers in parking lots or parking garages can slip and fall on ice that has accumulated. When businesses or establishments fail to take reasonable steps to remove snow or treat ice in a timely fashion, they can be held responsible for the injuries that occurred.
Who Is to Blame After a Slip and Fall Accident?
Ice-related slip and fall accidents typically happen in parking lots or on sidewalks. All property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care when it comes to safely removing snow and ice from their property in winter months. This requires removing snow and ice within a reasonable time after a storm and property owners often have contracts with snowplow companies to help them clear their parking lots and sidewalks for their customers, but If they fail to remove the snow or ice within a reasonable time, they may be held responsible for any injuries that result.
What constitutes “a reasonable time” may depend on where you live; in Louisiana, for example, what is reasonable may differ largely from what is expected in a northern state with more snowfall like North Dakota, as well as on the duration and severity of the weather. For example, if the storm is still ongoing when the injury occurs, it’s possible that the property owner may not be held liable because he has not had enough time to remove the snow or to treat the ice. Also, the more snow and ice that accumulates, the more time is needed to address it. But, arguably, when notice of an impending snowstorm is well-known advance, it can be unreasonable for a property owner not to take certain safety precautions, like salting parking lots and sidewalks in advance.
Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents on Ice
While winter weather can be unpredictable, there are some basic precautions a business can take to help prevent serious accidents. When they fail to take these basic precautions, they may be held liable for the injuries that occurred because of their negligence.
There are numerous ways a property owner’s negligence could cause a slip and fall accident on the ice. Some of those include:
- Inadequately salting parking lots, sidewalks, and entrances
- Inadequate snow removal
- Not placing safety mats at the entrances of the store
- Inadequate warning signs for wet floors
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Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents can result in serious injury and long-term disability. The elderly and small children are at an increased risk of suffering from more severe injuries. Slipping on ice can cause numerous types of injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Sprain/strain injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
These injuries can range in severity, so to be safe, it is important to seek medical evaluation immediately after any slip and fall accidents to accurately determine the nature and extent of any injuries you may have suffered and to make sure that you get the proper treatment, if needed.
What to do After a Slip and Fall Accident
To evaluate your slip-and-fall claim, the property owner’s insurance company will need proof of the property owner’s negligence. So, if you, or someone with you, are able, it can be helpful to take the following steps and obtain the following information after any slip-and-fall injury:
- Immediately notify the property owner or store manager of the incident
- Fill out an incident report
- Take pictures of the ice or snow
- Gather contact information for any eyewitnesses
- Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer to make sure that you understand your rights
Contact Our Virginia Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers Today
Proving negligence after a slip and fall accident isn’t easy and, often, the simple fact that you slipped and fell on ice in a parking lot is not enough to win a premises liability case. That is why it is so important to have an experienced and skilled slip and fall accident attorney on your side from the very start.
At Bergeron Law, we know that slipping and falling on ice can result in serious injury and long-term disability. If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a slip and fall accident this winter, Attorney Steve Bergeron is here to help you solve the problems arising from your injury so that you can get back to living your life. Call Steve today at (703) 813-6460 or fill out the confidential contact form for a free initial consultation and review of your case.