Robert Hartigan of the Law Office of Mazow McCullough talks with John Maher about slip and fall accidents in the winter. He explains what property owners need to do to avoid being negligent. Then, he discusses what you should do if you slip and fall in the winter.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Robert Hartigan of the Law Office of Mazow McCullough. Today we’re talking about slip and fall accidents in the winter. Welcome Robert.
Robert Hartigan: Hey, happy to be here.
Can Another Party Be Responsible If You Slip and Fall in the Winter?
John: So Robert, if you slip and fall on the ice in the winter, can another party be held responsible for that accident?
Robert: Yes, absolutely. So let’s take, for example, a slip and fall in front of somebody’s store. You could have a claim against the property owner, also a claim against any third party that was responsible for snow and ice removal.
What Responsibility Do Property Owners Have for Snow and Ice Removal?
John: Okay. Obviously Mother Nature is hard to predict. You might have an ice storm or a snowstorm, unexpectedly even, or maybe it’s worse than the forecaster said that it was going to be. What can a property owner really do to prevent this, and what’s expected of a property owner in terms of due diligence for clearing away snow or melting the ice in front of their store, things like that?
Robert: Yeah. So what’s expected of the property owner is to take reasonable steps to make sure that the area is safe. And that can be done by sanding, salting, shoveling, maybe using an ice pick, something to make it so that the person who’s walking on the property isn’t just going to suddenly slip and fall. Then it’s safe to navigate that area.
Now, if it had just snowed and then five minutes later somebody slips, then I think you’re going to have a very hard time proving that the store owner or the property owner was negligent. Likewise, if the ice had just frozen, and they didn’t have enough time to take steps to make sure it was safe, then I think you’d also have a tough time making that argument that the property owner was negligent.
John: Right, so maybe in the case where they shoveled once in the morning, but then they left it alone all day long, and in the afternoon, somebody slipped and fell. Maybe they could be held responsible because they only did it once in the morning, but if you had constant freezing or snow during the day and they’re going out every half an hour and throwing down ice melt or salt or sand on the ice, like you said, they’re probably going to have a hard time to prove negligence.
Robert: Yeah, I think you’re going to have a very hard time with that example proving that the property owner was negligent.
What Should You Do If You Slip and Fall?
John: Right. If you do get injured in a slip and fall accident in the winter, what should you do? What are the next steps?
Robert: So the next steps, seek medical treatment right away if you’re injured. You also want to make sure that you report the incident to the property owner as soon as possible, ideally right when it happens, and try to gather any evidence that you can of what the condition of the premises look like at the time of the fall.
John: And the good news is we all have smartphones in our pockets now, so it’d be pretty easy these days to take a few pictures of the outside of the store, that sort of thing, maybe document what the temperature was, what the weather was at that time.
Robert: Exactly. And if you do end up hiring an attorney, you should definitely do that as soon as possible. The attorney will send out a letter asking the property owner to preserve any evidence, including video surveillance, which could capture what the property looked like at the time.
What Type of Compensation Can You Receive If You Suffer a Slip-and-Fall Accident in the Winter?
John: Okay, and what types of compensation could you possibly receive after a slip and fall accident in the winter?
Robert: So it depends on many different factors. So you’ve got pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of future earnings. So it all depends on the situation.
John: Right. And so an attorney would have to help you with that, right? In terms of trying to figure out something like lost wages or future earnings could be difficult for a person to try to figure out on their own.
Robert: Exactly. And what’s required to prove those damages.
John: Right. All right. Well, that’s really great information, Robert. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Robert: Yeah. Thank you.
Visit HelpingInjured.com for More Details
John: And for more information, you can visit the website at helpinginjured.com or call 978-744-8000.