Snow and Ice Injuries
It’s no surprise given Chicago’s brutal, snowy winters that each year dozens of people contact us after having slipped or fallen on ice. We have had to turn away many people who have been legitimately injured in these inclement conditions because there are some particularities to Illinois’ law about falls and slips on ice and snow that make these difficult personal injury claims.
The first step to knowing whether or not there’s an opportunity for monetary compensation is determining liability.
Illinois has a rule about snow and ice when determining liability, referred to as the natural vs. unnatural accumulation of ice and snow test.
In order for someone to be liable for your fall on ice or snow, it must have been unnatural. This means that if snow and ice resulted because of natural weather conditions like a snowstorm or blizzard and you were injured due to a fall, you may have a very difficult case to make a monetary recovery from.
On top of that, the property owner is not liable if the snow is not shoveled or the sidewalk isn’t shoveled.
There are a few things to note about this rule relating to the unnatural accumulation of snow:
- Property owners are under no obligation to remove natural accumulation of snow, ice, or melted water from snow unless they are landlords or property management companies that have agreed to remove snow and ice under a lease agreement.
- Property owners are also not required to warn people of the danger of snow and ice.
- Melted snow inside of buildings from people tracking it indoors is considered to be a natural accumulation of snow.
- Ice that forms because of tire tracks, foot traffic, or bicycle marks is considered to be accumulated naturally.
You might be wondering – what actually constitutes an unnatural accumulation of snow?
Snow is considered to have been unnaturally accumulated if a property owner creates a situation where ice and snow develop or where they worsen a natural accumulation of snow and ice. The property owner is held liable if he or she should have known of the hazard (or did know of it) and the unnatural condition was more hazardous than the natural condition. Examples include:
- Water that runs out of a gutter and causes ice to develop
- A garden hose left running that ices over
- Shoveled snow that melts and refreezes, which could be an incentive for property owners not to shovel snow
However, the passage of the Snow and Ice Removal Act is meant to encourage residential property owners to shovel or remove snow and ice by establishing that there is no liability for injuries unless the act is willful or wanton.
You may have grounds for a personal injury claim for your snow and ice injuries if sidewalks, parking lots, or other pavement are designed negligently or improperly maintained. This is a unique circumstance and if you feel that the pavement was sloped, cracked, or otherwise improperly maintained and contributed to your fall on ice or snow, please give us a call so we can assess the situation.
Please take care when you’re out walking around during Chicago’s seemingly endless winters. In most instances, a slip and fall on ice and snow from natural wintry conditions does not mean you are entitled to monetary compensation under Illinois law. However, if there were artificial or exacerbated accumulations of snow and ice that led to your injury, we may be able to help. Contact us at (312) 236-2900 and we can determine if someone else may be at fault for your condition.