Chicago was hit by about 6 inches of snow last night, and we’re not alone—other parts of Illinois received as much as 9 inches, and parts of New England were buried in as much as a foot of snow overnight. As people struggle to keep up with snow and ice removal on both streets and sidewalks, traveling carefully will be more important than ever—as our team of lawyers knows, a slip and fall on Chicago sidewalks can result in serious injury, or worse.
Are Property Owners Responsible for Slip and Fall Accidents?
In areas that receive as much snowfall as Chicago, preventing slip and fall accidents is a major responsibility. According to city snow removal guidelines, for example, homeowners are required to clear snow from the sidewalks outside their homes. Business owners are also responsible for clearing their own sidewalks, and in both cases, the city may fine those who neglect that responsibility.
What does this mean for those who slip and fall? Usually, contacting a lawyer. The city’s ordinances on snow removal depend on a number of factors, such as time elapsed since snowfall ended, and determining fault takes a certain degree of legal expertise.
What Counts as a Slip and Fall Accident in the Snow?
A slip and fall accident in weather like this can be caused by one of many things—not just the obvious.
If a tripping hazard like a garden hose or sprinkler has been obscured by the snow and causes someone to trip, for example, the property owner may be liable. If a property owner neglects to shovel the snow or de-ice their sidewalk and someone slips and falls, they could similarly be held responsible.
Ice is a critical factor in many slip and fall accidents, especially when property owners are negligent. A sidewalk that looks clear may, in fact, be anything but—even with the snow shoveled, all it takes is a thin layer of ice to pose a dangerous hazard for pedestrians.
Preventing a Slip and Fall Accident After It Snows
Staying safe in snowy and icy conditions is everyone’s responsibility, whether you’re a property owner or just a pedestrian. When you’re walking after a fresh snowfall, be careful—especially because according to city ordinances, property owners may have as much as three hours after a snowfall before they are obligated to clear the walkway.
If you have property that you need to keep clear, familiarize yourself with your legal obligations regarding snow and ice removal, and make sure that you have the supplies you need. Stock up on salt, for example—in parts of New England, snowfall has been so heavy that official organizations like the New Jersey Department of Transportation are having difficulty procuring enough salt to keep up with the weather.
Have You Been Injured?
If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident in Chicago, contacting a lawyer should be one of your first priorities. Because of the variety of factors that can impact a case like this—including the amount of snow and ice, the time of snowfall, and more—getting a lawyer on your case as soon as possible can make a significant difference. Don’t wait until it’s too late—contact a slip and fall lawyer at Malman Law today.