Chicago winters can be brutal. Between the frigid temperatures, snow, and ice, sometimes it seems like spring may never arrive. While the Polar Vortex has gone, the dangers of snow and ice linger on. Chicago sees the majority of its snowfall from New Year’s Day until February, averaging 10 inches of snow per month. Ice and snow can cause falls and other serious injuries. A fall on ice is not uncommon in Chicago winters. But who is liable if you fall on icy sidewalks, driveways, or walkways?
With icy conditions on our streets, roads, and sidewalks, falls and serious injuries can become more common. Falls on snow or ice can cause you to break bones, suffer a traumatic brain injury or worse. Illinois law, however, protects property owners and managers in the event of a slip and fall caused by a natural accumulation of ice and snow.
The Snow and Ice Removal Act does not require property owners or managers to clear ice and snow from sidewalks or remove a “natural accumulation” of snow from their property. The Act also provides immunity to property owners who do shovel but don’t do a great job of removing the snow and ice. Because of this, the Act protects landowners and landlords from liability in many slip-and-fall cases. This can prevent you from recovering compensation for your injuries. So what should you do if you fall and are injured as a result of snow and ice accumulation?
Check with an experienced slip and fall attorney who understands the law. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act does allow for injured individuals to seek compensation for their injuries from property owners if an “unnatural accumulation” of snow or ice caused them to slip, fall and become injured. These unnatural accumulations can be caused by a property owner:
- Willfully or wantonly creating a hazardous condition
- Maintaining the premises in a negligent manner, contributing to hazardous conditions
- Ignoring code violations and property defects that cause winter hazards
In these kinds of situations, the Act does not shield the property owner from liability. In addition, a court recently ruled that the Act’s liability protection does not apply in cases where an injury occurs in a parking lot instead of a sidewalk.
In each case, the facts need to be carefully investigated to determine the actual cause of the dangerous conditions. If an “unnatural accumulation” of ice or snow caused you to slip and fall, the owner or manager of the property where you were injured could be held liable. That is why it’s important to speak with a lawyer who is well versed in the Snow and Ice Removal Act. The personal injury lawyers at The Collins Law Firm understand the complexities of winter weather slip and falls and can help you determine if you have a premises liability case. Schedule your free consultation at 630-527-1595.