What Should You Do If You Slip And Fall On Ice Or Snow This Winter
Ryan Zavodnick | November 4, 2015 | Premises Liability
Winter is coming. No, we are not referring to the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. It seems like just yesterday that we were enjoying sunshine, warm temperatures and dry weather. Unfortunately, as December approaches, colder temperatures, windy conditions and precipitation come along for the ride.
Over One Million People Are Injured As A Result of Slip and Fall Accidents Each Year
Every year over one million people are hurt or injured as a result of slip and fall accidents. In fact, it may shock you to learn that thousands of people die each year as a result of slip and fall accidents. The number of slip and fall injuries seems to be at its peak during the winter months, due to the conditions of sidewalks, streets, parking lots and walkways. Unfortunately, many property owners quite simply don’t do a good enough job when it comes to maintaining their properties in good condition and properly performing snow and ice removal. Many homeowners choose not to shovel or treat the surfaces at all, while others make half-hearted attempts, leaving behind patches of black ice that are impossible for pedestrians and visitors to see. Commercial property owners such as supermarket chains, pharmacies, fast food restaurants and mall owners oftentimes are equally guilty. We have handled many premises liability cases involving such commercial property owners, who typically hire the least expensive snow removal contractor to treat and/or remove the snow and ice. These contractors leave behind inherently dangerous conditions, resulting in personal injuries to unsuspecting patrons and customers. In addition to the issues existing on the exterior, during the winter months we typically see a rise in slip and fall accidents inside commercial buildings such as supermarkets due to slippery conditions existing near entrances and exits, as well as in aisles that have not been properly mopped.
Steps You Should Take If You Are Injured As A Result Of A Slip and Fall On Ice Or Snow
So what can and should you do if you are hurt or injured as a result of a slip and fall on snow, ice or some other slippery condition? The following, by no means all-inclusive, is a good place to start:
- Take pictures of the dangerous condition. Unlike in other slip and fall cases involving defective steps or some other defective condition, the evidence in a snow and ice slip and fall case disappears-literally! If you are hurt after falling on snow and ice, make sure you or someone else with you takes pictures before it is too late. Without pictures, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible at times, to prove that the property owner’s negligence led to a dangerous condition existing on the property. By the time you call a slip and fall attorney to represent you it may be too late for that attorney to get out to the scene of the accident to gather evidence because the evidence will have melted, and your testimony regarding the condition of the premises may not be sufficient to substantiate a lawsuit on your behalf.
- Fill out an incident report. If you slip and fall in a supermarket, mall or other commercial building or property, make sure you fill out an incident report immediately. Be certain to indicate how you fell, the parts of your body that you injured, and the time of the fall.
- Identify any witnesses to the fall. Was there anybody who witnessed your fall? Friends, co-workers and other customers may all have seen your fall. Identifying those who witnessed your accident right away and obtaining full names and phone numbers will prove beneficial in the event you end up being seriously injured as a result of your slip and fall.
- Find out who the property owner is. If you slip and fall outside a residential building such as someone’s home or apartment, make sure you are clear regarding where exactly you fell. Write down the addresses of any buildings nearby so that your attorney will be able to properly identify the negligent property owner and put the owner on notice of your claim.
- If you are injured after falling on snow or ice, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible. If you sustain serious personal injuries, get to the nearest Emergency Room so you can be properly evaluated and treated. If not, make an appointment to see your family doctor as soon as possible. It is better to see a doctor right away after an accident and then choose not to follow-up if you end up feeling better after a couple of days than it is to wait to see a doctor for a week or more before realizing that you are seriously injured. In the latter circumstance, the insurance companies will argue that you must not have been hurt since you didn’t see a doctor right after your injury, ignoring the fact that many people choose to wait a few days before rushing to the doctor following a fall. Don’t fall into this trap. Be sure to see a doctor right away if you are hurt so that your back, leg, shoulder, knee and or other injuries are documented.
- Call a lawyer. Similar to seeking medical attention immediately, it is a good idea to call a lawyer right away if you are hurt after a slip and fall on snow or ice. There is never a fee charged for an initial consultation, and lawyers in these types of cases don’t get paid at all unless they obtain compensation for you, so call right away and make sure that you retain a top slip and fall attorney to guide you through the process of identifying the responsible property owners, giving legally required notice to any cities or municipalities who may be involved, coordinating your medical treatment for your injuries and more. The lawyer you retain will be able to gather all necessary evidence and conduct a thorough investigation before providing an opinion regarding whether the property owner was negligent. Your attorney will be able to find out whether there were any snow removal contractors involved, whether any incident reports were prepared by the property owner, and whether there is adequate insurance.
Slip and fall accident cases can be tricky. However, if you follow the advice provided above you will put yourself in the best position should you be unfortunate enough to sustain an injury as a result of a slip and fall accident. Please feel free to contact Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC at (215) 875-7030 if you or a loved one have been hurt as a result of a slip and fall. Stay safe!