Property Owner Liability in Winter Slip-and-Fall Accidents

A responsible property owner clearing snow from sidewalk.

Winter can be a time for fun activities, such as ice skating and skiing, among a beautiful landscape blanketed in snow. Unfortunately, wintertime also brings an increased risk of slip-and-fall accidents due to icy conditions. 

The risk is especially dangerous for the elderly. In fact, according to the CDC, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments every year for fall-related injuries. 

Suffering just one slip-and-fall accident can permanently change the life of an innocent victim. Quite often after a fall, what may initially appear to be only minor injuries may later prove to be severe and life-changing. State laws entitle a victim of a winter-related slip-and-fall accident on someone else’s property to pursue fair compensation for damages suffered.

How Premises Liability Law Applies to Winter Slip-and-Falls

Slip and fall cases come under premises liability, a sphere of personal injury law clarifying that all property owners have a legal obligation to ensure a safe environment for all potential visitors. If a property owner fails to tend to a potential hazard in a timely manner, or to warn visitors of existing dangers on the property, then he or she could be held accountable for damages when a slip-and-fall accident occurs.

In Arkansas, premises liability applies to all commercial and residential property, which includes apartment complexes, grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants, and even parking lots and sidewalks. So, while going about your daily routine, remember that you have legal rights to pursue a property owner for compensation when you suffer injuries from a slip-and-fall.

Although there are several potential property hazards all year round that property owners must tend to, unique hazardous conditions arise in the wintertime that must also be handled promptly. 

Some of these winter hazards include the following:

  • Accumulated snow: When snow accumulates, it becomes hazardous by creating an uneven surface for walking – in addition to being very slippery. As such, property owners must take preventative measures and be prompt about clearing snow from sidewalks, entryways, and parking lots.
  • Icy surfaces: An even greater hazard than snow is ice – especially black ice. The fact that black ice is practically smooth and invisible makes it extremely hazardous. If left untreated, by breaking it up or using salt or sand to melt it, such dangerous ice may cause a visitor to suffer a slip-and-fall. 
  • Poor lighting: Since days are shorter in the wintertime, visibility becomes more limited. Property owners would have to make sure that there is sufficient lighting for visitors to see any potential hazards such as patches of ice.

This list, while not comprehensive, highlights the fact that the winter months bring additional risks of slip-and-falls occurring. It also shows that property owners could be found liable if they fail to tend to potentially dangerous conditions – such as snow and ice removal – promptly.

Establishing a Property Owner’s Negligence and Liability 

In the aftermath of a slip-and-fall accident, the injured party has a legal right to pursue financial recovery for damages from a property owner. But it must be proven, not only that the property owner was negligent, but also that such negligence directly caused the injuries.

Altogether, 4 elements must be shown in order to hold a property owner liable for compensation. These are:

  1. Duty of care: The property owner had a duty to provide relatively safe premises
  2. Breach of duty: The owner breached his or her duty by failing to promptly take reasonable care regarding hazards
  3. Damages: The victim suffered damages, which can be proven by medical bills and other evidence
  4. Causation: The damages suffered were a direct result of the negligence of the property owner

Although such basic elements may sound straightforward and simple, proving all of these to establish premises liability can be more complicated than it appears. Evidence must be obtained to establish the facts. 

Such evidence can be obtained from various sources including:

  • Videos and photographs of the accident scene
  • The testimony of any eyewitnesses 
  • Surveillance cameras
  • Medical records
  • Expert testimony

Further, Arkansas is one of several states that have adopted the law of modified comparative negligence, which means that if a victim’s actions were found to have contributed mostly (50 percent or more) to the cause of the slip-and-fall accident, then he or she is not entitled to receive compensation. Further, if a victim is entitled to receive compensation (sharing less than 50 percent of fault), the compensation amount will be reduced by the percentage of fault.

The complicated process of obtaining evidence and proving negligence on the part of a property owner highlights why the assistance of an experienced slip and fall lawyer is vital. Your personal injury lawyer, who would have experience with premises liability cases, will know how to build a strong case and see that you are fully compensated for your injuries. 

Types of Compensation You May Be Entitled to Receive for a Slip-and-Fall Accident

Experiencing a slip-and-fall on snow or ice can cause injuries that can range from mild to severe. Some common injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries: TBIs, which include such injuries as concussions, hemorrhage, and cerebral edema, can range from mild to severe. Slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of brain injuries, according to the Brain Injury Institute.
  • Spinal cord injuriesFalls on a hard surface such as ice or snow can compress or even sever a victim’s spinal cord. Not only could this result in the victim suffering permanent severe pain, but he or she could also be left with limited mobility or irreversible paralysis.
  • Broken bones: In some cases, the force of a fall may be so great that a victim’s bones may fracture. In addition to being excruciatingly painful, a broken bone may also require long-term care and physical therapy. 
  • Soft-tissue injuries: These are among the most common types of injuries that result from slip-and-fall accidents. Soft-tissue internal injuries include sprains, torn ligaments, and knee injuries such as MCL and ACL tears. 
  • Death: A slip-and-fall accident in some cases might prove to be fatal, especially if the victim is elderly. When the loss of a loved family member occurs unexpectedly, and if negligence is a factor, the trauma suffered by the family may be further compounded.

A victim who suffers such a fall injury due to unsafe conditions, whether on private property or public property, has a right to be fairly compensated. Such compensation may be possible to help cover:

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Household renovation for disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Wrongful death-related expenses

Get Assistance With Your Slip and Fall Case Today!

If you or your loved one has experienced a slip-and-fall accident due to winter weather hazards, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the change in your circumstances. Perhaps you are receiving medical treatment for serious injuries, coupled with mounting medical bills and lost income. If so, you have the right to take legal action and seek to recover compensation for your damages. However, the process can be very complicated.

The insurance company of the property owner will likely use tactics to attempt to minimize the value of your slip and fall claim. Don’t make the mistake of speaking with an insurance adjuster before consulting an attorney at our law firm. The insurance company could twist your words and later use them against you.

It’s better to be prepared for anything. The personal injury lawyers at our law firm know how to gather evidence to support your claim, isolate the facts, calculate the value of your claim, and aggressively pursue compensation for your damages. Further, our lawyers are familiar with tactics used by insurance adjusters and know how to refute them.

Contact Minton Law’s slip-and-fall accident lawyers – serving the areas of Little Rock, Benton, and Conway in Arkansas – at 855-Xadjuster or online today for a free consultation regarding your slip-and-fall case. If we don’t recover financial compensation for you, you don’t owe us a dime.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.