Slips and Falls on Ice: Do You Have a Claim?
Every year, approximately 1 million people in the U.S. become injured from a slip and fall on ice and snow. You should know what to do in this situation, ideally before it happens, so that you can protect your right to compensation if your fall was because of another person’s negligence.
A Property Owner’s Responsibility
Property owners are responsible for keeping their premises as safe as possible, including when there’s snow and ice on the ground. It’s not just the outdoors they need to think about. Some ice and snow slip and falls actually occur after the person has walked inside of a building. People track slush throughout the building, which can cause others coming in after them to slip and fall. Building owners must put mats in front of the door so that people coming inside can wipe slush off of their shoes. They should also set up a wet floor sign to remind visitors to walk carefully as they won’t be able to get their shoes completely dry.
Aspects of the outdoors that property owners must keep safe from snow and ice are sidewalks, walkways, parking lots, driveways and any other common areas. You can check with a personal injury lawyer if the area where you fell counts under Pennsylvania’s duty of care law.
Committing an Illegal Activity
A situation in which an injured person usually can’t get compensated for slip and fall injuries is when they were attempting to commit a crime or any illegal activity on the property. If you were trespassing on the property, this counts as illegal activity, so you might not be able to obtain damages.
What’s Needed for a Personal Injury Claim?
If you want to file a claim for a slip and fall on ice, the court will require you to prove that the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the snowy or icy conditions. You must prove that the property owner neglected to remove the snow and ice and their negligence was the direct cause of your injuries. Your injuries must also be verifiable. If you contributed to your injuries, however, you might not be able to obtain the full amount of compensation. This is why a personal injury lawyer is helpful for your claim.
The time of your injury influences whether or not you can make a personal injury claim. If you’re out walking at 1:00 a.m. and slip and fall on ice in front of someone’s home, then they might not be liable because it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect them to clear snow and ice in the middle of the night. They may have been sleeping when the ice formed. When it comes to residential areas, the law usually sees daylight hours as the reasonable time to expect homeowners to clear the snow. You should check local laws to know if they have an exact time by which homeowners need to remove snow from their walkways.
Medical records are also needed to prove the extent of your injuries and what they were caused by. Each time you see a doctor for your slip and fall injuries, let them know what caused it and the time, date, and location of your injuries so that they can include this information in your records.
Take Extra Care When Filing Against a Government Agency
If a government agency like the post office is responsible for your slip and fall, you only have one chance to get your claim in. Claims that have mistakes or aren’t submitted by the deadline are automatically denied without a second chance.
What to Do After a Slip and Fall
Take a panoramic video recording of the area to show how bad the conditions were when you fell. Make sure to show the surrounding area where snow and ice had been cleared away to assist in proving the property owner’s negligence.
In some cases, your injuries may make it difficult to gather this evidence. You can ask someone you trust to take the video recording and pictures for you. It’s best to inform your loved ones of the importance of taking pictures and video recordings of the scene where you were injured so that they can do it for you if you were knocked unconscious and woke up in the hospital. The ice may melt away within a few hours, or the property owner could clear it away. Acting quickly in gathering the evidence is crucial.
If there were any witnesses to your fall, ask them to write down a statement of what they observed, including how painful they perceived the fall to be and how bad the icy, snowy conditions were. They must date and sign their statement. Gather their contact information too in case you need to talk to them again for your personal injury claim. Even if you had a friend or family member with you when you fell, ask any strangers for their statements. Insurance adjusters and courts give more weight to witness statements that come from people who have no personal interest in your case.
Gathering as much evidence as you can after a slip and fall is important in proving your claim. Contact Rebemack Aronow & Mascolo, L.L.P. at (732) 247-3600 for additional assistance in putting together a personal injury claim in New Brunswick, New Jersey.