Winter Weather And Premises Liability: How Ice And Snow Affects Recovery
November 19, 2019
Slips and Falls in the Winter
If you are injured in a fall or another accident on someone else’s property, the owner may be held liable for your injuries under the legal doctrine known as premises liability. There are a number of factors that can affect the amount of evidence you will need to prove liability and the likelihood of your case succeeding, including weather conditions. In a state where snow and ice is an annual occurrence, it can be important to know how winter weather can increase or decrease the odds of winning your case. Here is what you need to know about how winter weather conditions affect premises liability cases.
If you are looking to bring a premises liability claim against a property owner, it is important to understand what your visitor status is for legal purposes. There are three levels, each earning a different level of care under the law. The highest status is that of the invitee. An invitee is someone who is expressly or impliedly invited (as the name suggests) onto the owner’s property, such as a business visitor or a social guest. The property owner has the duty to ensure that the premises is safe for them, and that the owner took reasonable steps to make it that way.
The middle tier of visitor status is the licensee. A licensee is someone allowed upon another’s property, either expressed or implied. The difference between the invitee and the licensee stems from the fact that a licensee is on the owner’s property for their own purposes and not the benefit of the owner, such as in a business situation. Friends and family visits usually fall in this category. The owner in this case has the duty to warn them of dangers on the property, and make sure to avoid willfully negligent conduct. These are the two types of visitors where snow and ice will be a premises liability issue.
Forewarning Of Hazardous Winter Weather
With weather forecast technology being what it is today, an owner of a building/other premises now have a good idea when ice and snow are going to affect their area. If they are not diligent in keeping up with snow or ice accumulation in places where business guests, social visitors, and other protected groups will frequent, they can be held liable for accidents involving those hazardous conditions on their property. Parking lots, ramps, stairs, and railings can become dangerous after a storm, so keeping up with what weather is headed your way is very important.
Accumulations And Clearing The Danger
As we in the northeast are well aware, it takes no time at all for snow and ice to accumulate when intense storms are blowing through. Because of this, owners are expected to take measures to clear some of the accumulated precipitation in a reasonable amount of time, usually within a day or two. This is especially important on high-traffic areas like sidewalks and crosswalks, where the owner knows their visitors, guests, or customers will be treading.
In many of these kinds of premises liability cases, the measure for recovery can come down to the reasonableness of steps taken or not taken to keep their property safe. If property owners lay down sand or salt before a storm to help combat icy conditions, this is a good marker that they were reasonably prepared for the circumstances ahead. Also, while we can know the weather, we cannot control it. Fierce storms with insanely low temperatures and high winds can happen in a flash and can make any premises dangerous, no matter the steps taken. This is decided on a case-by-case basis, which is why it is important to contact an attorney if you find yourself in one of these situations.
Contact A Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Premises Liability Case Today!
Did you or a loved one slip and fall on someone else’s property in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Purchase, George, and Murphey P.C. represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Erie, Meadville, and Edinboro, Pennsylvania. Call 814-833-7100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2525 W 26th St., Erie, PA 16506, as well as offices at The Masonic Building 310 Chestnut St, Suite 111 Meadville, PA 16335 and at 68 East Main Street, North East, PA 16428.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.