With snow and ice piling up over the winter months, many people believe that slip and falls that result in injuries automatically entitle the injured party to damages. Unfortunately, it's not that simple.
Slip and falls due to weather conditions, while dangerous, don't always mean that a proprietor or homeowner is responsible for injuries caused by snow and ice build up on their property. Anyone filing a claim for damages in a slip and fall case due to weather conditions has to demonstrate four specific elements of their case if they stand a chance at winning compensation:
- The Snow, Water, or Ice Was Unnatural In Nature: The biggest misconception about slip and falls due to weather conditions is that one can be held liable for any type of weather conditions. In reality, only unnatural accumulations of snow or ice are actionable in Illinois whereas natural accumulations of ice or snow are not. Examples of unnatural accumulations of ice or snow include plowed or shoveled snow, ice caused by melted snow piles (after re-freezing), an foreign liquids freezing in cold temperatures. Examples of natural accumulations of ice or snow include impacted snow on sidewalks and icy walkways due to poor weather conditions. Even tracked in water, snow, or ice near building entranceways are most often-times not actionable in Illinois. Establishing dangerous conditions in a slip-and-fall injury claim and ensuring that the condition was unnatural in nature is the most important aspect of proving one's claim. After all, those dangerous conditions are the foundation of your case. Taking photos and identifying witnesses are essential when one is injured in a slip and fall case.
- The Dangerous Conditions Caused Your Injuries: Of course, it's not enough that you prove that the conditions were dangerous. You must also prove that those conditions were the cause of your injuries. It is important that you document all injuries and related symptoms from the outset, if possible. This works best by getting medical treatment immediately, if necessary. Making the case that your injuries were the direct result of those conditions is essential in any case, including a slip and fall claim.
- The Owner or Proprietor Caused the Condition and if not, Knew or Should Have Known of Said Condition and Had Ample Opportunity to Correct Them: Proving that a proprietor or homeowner caused the condition or knew or should have known of the dangerous condition on their property (and had a reasonable amount of time to correct it) may be the most difficult aspect of fighting for your personal injury claim. Often, claimants in these cases may not be able to establish that the condition was caused by the owner and therefore, must establish that these conditions existed for an extended duration of time such that the owner(s) should have known of said dangerous condition yet failed to act to protect those on their premises.
All of the above elements of a slip and fall claim must be met before a claim will be awarded and proving all four can be difficult. If you would like to discuss filing a weather-related slip and fall claim, you should contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Panio Law Offices in Chicago. We have ample experience establishing evidence in these cases and we work assiduously to ensure we recover the highest damage amounts for our clients ensuring they can move on with their lives in as much as is possible.
Call us today at (312) 313-0305. We can help.