Winter weather conditions make slip and fall accidents more common. While some may think first of the elderly needing to exercise particular caution, the truth is a slip and fall can happen to anyone. When snow and ice are present the risk of a slip and fall increases, but whether or not the property owner is liable for injuries from a slip and fall on ice depends on the conditions at the time of the accident.
In Pennsylvania, the Hills and Ridges doctrine governs slip and fall cases that occur on ice. The Hills and Ridges doctrine says that the snow and ice must create a dangerous condition of hills and ridges. In other words, if a light dusting of snow falls and you slip, the property owner is not necessarily responsible. If the snow and ice naturally accumulate to create hills and ridges and they are allowed to remain for an unreasonable amount of time, then the property owner may be liable for injuries caused by a slip and fall.
The doctrine makes a distinction between snow and ice that accumulates naturally and that which has been manipulated by human intervention. If the property owner plows the snow and the mound melts and creates a puddle which freezes into ice at night, the owner may be held liable for any injuries incurred by a fall victim.
There are other icy conditions for which a property owner may be held liable. One example is if there is a known condition or defect of the property that causes ice to accumulate, such as a downspout or gutter that creates pools of water on a walkway that then freeze. If the owner knows of the condition or defect and chooses not to remedy it, then they may be liable for injuries caused by a slip and fall.
There is also a doctrine covering slip and falls on an isolated patch of ice, but the conditions must be such that the ice patch is totally isolated. A slip and fall in an area that is covered by snow and ice will likely not qualify.
As detailed above, the conditions of the slip and fall are crucial for determining liability in Pennsylvania. For this reason, it is critical that victims document the conditions of the premises at the time of the accident in order to recover compensation. This means taking photos of the ground where you fell as well as the surrounding areas. If anyone witnessed the fall, third party accounts of the accident and the premises are also helpful. Take down the personal information of any witnesses should you need to contact them later for their description of the event. Seek medical care for your injury and contact a qualified Media slip and fall lawyer for advice and counsel.
A slip and fall on ice can cause injuries that leave lasting damage. A Media slip and fall lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. can review your case to determine your best options for recovering compensation. Call 610-565-3700 today to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. We have offices conveniently located in Media and West Chester serving clients throughout Chester County and Delaware County, Pennsylvania.