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Complete Guide to Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

The Complete Guide to Slip and Fall Accidents on Ice or Snow

Slip and fall accidents on ice or snow are common occurrences in the winter. You know the feeling. You’re walking outside and step on a patch of ice. You feel your feet slide, so you begin to panic. You put your arms out to regain your balance and try to avoid a fall. But, what happens if you do fall? Falling on ice is a scary experience that can lead to injuries.
In this guide, you’ll learn about what to do if you fall on ice and the relevant laws to help you determine if you need a lawyer. You’ll also learn how both pedestrians and property owners can reduce the risk of slip and falls on ice or snow.

slip and fall on snow or ice - complete guide

Injuries From Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow

Injuries resulting from a slip and fall on a snowy or icy sidewalk can be serious. You may fracture your arm while trying to break your fall or hit your head on the hard ground. Call for medical help if you feel any pain after a fall. Common injuries from a slip and fall on ice or snow include:

Slip and fall injuries are expensive to care for, especially if they are severe. Between the medical bills, potential lost wages, and pain and suffering, it all adds up. An injury can change your life. When you slip and fall because of negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. It’s important to contact a slip and fall attorney to see if you have a case.

What To Do If You Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

After you slip and fall on ice, you may feel embarrassed. You may want to brush it off and pretend you’re okay, especially if other people saw you fall. But slip and falls can be serious. It’s okay to get help. If you fall on ice, it’s important to do the following:

  • Seek medical attention if you are in pain and make sure to document your injuries.
  • Record witnesses. Get the names and contact information of people who saw you fall.
  • Report the incident and dangerous condition to the property or business owner.
  • Take photos. Since ice and snow can melt quickly, it’s crucial to document the scene of your accident right after it happens.
  • Preserve your shoes and clothing as they may serve as evidence later.
  • Call an attorney to discuss your legal rights. A slip and fall lawyer can explain all applicable laws to you and determine if you have a case. It’s essential to remain calm after a slip and fall. You may have a premises liability case. And if you do, it’s vital to think clearly so you can get information that will support your case.

Pennsylvania Laws About Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow

Snow is a normal occurrence in Pennsylvania. Thus, PA law does not need property owners to keep their sidewalk free of snow and ice at all times. That would be next to impossible! Additionally, they aren’t held liable for slip and falls under general slippery conditions. If a person slips on a sidewalk covered in newly fallen snow, they aren’t usually able to recover damages.

dangerous sidewalk - icy slip and fall - premises liability

Pennsylvania’s Hills and Ridges Doctrine

The hills and ridges doctrine dictates when a property owner can be held liable. If snow or ice gathers in dangerous ridges or elevations for an unreasonable amount of time. This applies in cases of natural accumulation of snow or ice on a pedestrian walkway. The plaintiff must prove the dangerous ridges or elevations caused the fall. Under the hills and ridges doctrine, the plaintiff must prove the following:

  • The snow and ice accumulated on the walkway in ridges or elevations.
  • They were of such size and character to unreasonably obstruct travel.
  • The ridges or elevations created a danger to pedestrians.
  • The property owner knew or should have known of the existence of the dangerous condition.
  • It was the dangerous accumulation of snow and ice which caused the plaintiff to fall.

There are exceptions to the hills and ridges doctrine. The doctrine does not apply in cases where the plaintiff slipped on a localized patch of ice. It also does not apply in cases where negligence created a hazardous condition. An example of this would be if a leaking gutter caused ice to form on the sidewalk.

The specifics of the hills and ridges doctrine are complicated. Additionally, each case is different. It is always best to consult with a lawyer if you sustained an injury from falling on ice.

hills and ridges doctrine in Pennsylvania - slip and fall laws

How Pedestrians Can Avoid Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow

A premises liability case will look at what the pedestrian did that may have caused him or her to fall. So, you must exercise a greater degree of caution when walking outside in the winter. Avoid walking in areas where snow or ice is visible. You should also do the following:

  • Pay attention to where you are walking and look at the sidewalk ahead of you.
  • Be especially cautious of black ice.
  • Take shorter steps.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Walk slowly and carefully.
  • Use handrails when available.
  • Wipe your shoes when you enter a building and watch for slippery floors caused by melted snow or ice.
  • Keep your hands free and out of your pockets. You will need to use your arms to regain balance if you feel yourself slip. Avoid carrying shopping bags or other items.
  • Be careful when getting in or out of a vehicle. Hold onto the vehicle for balance.

How Property Owners Can Prevent Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow on Their Property

Property owners can take precautions to protect themselves from a premises liability lawsuit. It’s crucial to take necessary measures to clear pedestrian walking areas of snow and ice. This must happen in a timely manner. You should do the following:

  • Buy a shovel, salt, and other items before a snowstorm.
  • If you are not able to shovel snow, hire a contractor or person to do it for you.
  • Do a good job shoveling. Don’t leave isolated patches of snow or ice.
  • Spread sand, gravel, or salt on walking areas to create more traction for pedestrians.
  • Pile snow in a safe area. Make sure the runoff from melting snow will not refreeze on the pavement.

Inspect your property by doing the following:

  • Check that your gutter won’t leak and create a pile of ice.
  • Fix uneven or broken sidewalks or stairs so snow doesn’t cover the hazard.
  • When it rains, look to see where puddles form as these areas will be more prone to ice patches.
  • If you’re a business owner, put safety cones or signs near particularly slippery areas.
  • Have proper lighting so people can see ice and snow.
  • Place a mat or rug at the entrance of your home or business to encourage the wiping of feet.
  • Wipe away puddles of melted snow that form near the entrance of your home or business.

It’s also important for property owners to follow the local snow removal laws. Lancaster City residents must clear their sidewalks within five hours of last snowfall. Additionally, if the snow ends overnight, residents have until 10 am.
Shoveling the snow from your sidewalk isn’t an enjoyable task. But it’s a lot better than injuring someone. Plus, it’s better than getting fined or sued. You don’t want to risk a neighbor or customer falling on your property, so make sure it’s safe.

Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow Attorneys

The laws about slip and falls on snow or ice can be confusing. If you slipped on ice, it’s normal to be unsure whether someone is liable for your injuries. If you don’t know if you have a case, a Lancaster slip and fall attorney can evaluate your situation. We provide a free, no-pressure consultation. Get legal advice for your specific situation. Then, you can decide the best way to proceed.
Call or text us today at 717-397-3200 to set up your consultation. Or, fill out our online form to schedule a free slip and fall injury consultation.