In the winter, snow and ice pose hazards to Missourians visiting businesses, walking on sidewalks, traversing parking lots, or going just about anywhere that snow and ice have accumulated on the ground. Some people are injured when they enter retail establishments because of floors covered in melting snow and ice, which cause them to slip and fall. Others fall on slippery stairs because of snow and ice that have been tracked in on people’s shoes. In addition, some people slip and fall in parking lots or on sidewalks that have not been cleared.
In some of these circumstances, the injured person can seek compensation from the party responsible with the help of a ice or snow personal accident attorney. However, not every situation provides the legal grounds to file an ice or snow personal injury case.
When Can You File an Ice or Snow Personal Injury Case?
In Missouri, snow and ice are considered to be universal hazards, which means that businesses are not responsible for initially clearing their parking lots or sidewalks. People are expected to recognize snow and ice on the ground as a hazard and to take reasonable care to protect themselves while walking on it. However, a business that does clear snow and ice from its parking lots and sidewalks may be liable if doing so creates an unnatural condition. In addition, businesses that do not take steps to clean up melted ice or snow in their entryways or on stairs may be liable if visitors slip, fall, and suffer an injury in the process.
Determining Whether the Snow or Ice Was an Unnatural Condition
There are several ways in which the act of clearing snow or ice can create unnatural conditions. For example, if a business owner salts the business’s sidewalk, and the melted snow then forms into ice, the formed ice may be considered an unnatural condition, forming the basis for liability. Other unnatural conditions include leaky gutters that spill water that then freezes, potholes that fill with snow or ice (making them unnoticeable until people step into them), and cracks in sidewalks that accumulate water that then freezes. In order to prove that a slip-and-fall accident resulted from an unnatural condition involving snow or ice, it is important to take photographs of the scene and to investigate what happened as soon as possible after the accident happens. If you wait too long, the evidence will melt away.
The Importance of the Investigation
Because snow and ice melt and are transient in nature, it is very important for an ice or snow personal accident attorney to thoroughly investigate the scene following an accident immediately afterward. If you can, take photographs of where you fell, taking care to document your surroundings and the condition of the ground. Your ice or snow personal accident attorney will want to determine if the condition was one that the business owner knew or should have known about. In cases involving snow and ice, your ice or snow personal accident attorney will also want to determine if the business owner did something or failed to do something that created an unnatural condition. This might include failing to repair broken gutters or leaky pipes (which can cause spills that freeze) or failing to repair cracks in sidewalks or potholes in parking lots (which can accumulate snow and ice).
If you have suffered an injury on the premises of another because of snow or ice, consult the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today. We will fight to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.