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Winter weather increases your risk of slipping and falling

The days are shorter and temperatures are dropping here in Indiana, which means that there is a potential for snow and ice. Winter weather means an increase in the risk of slipping and falling. No matter how careful you might try to be when walking, remaining upright could be a challenge.

Nearly everyone who has a social media account or watches videos online have seen compilations of people falling on icy streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Those videos make millions of people laugh and cringe, but in reality, the potential for serious or fatal injuries is no laughing matter. To make matters worse, liability can be tricky to establish.

I fell on ice outside a store. Can the business be held liable?

That depends on the circumstances. The law does not generally hold business owners responsible for clearing snow and ice from their walkways and parking lots. However, a company would more than likely lose business if it did not provide people with a way to get into the building.

Snow and ice removal needs to be maintained, however. Puddles can develop that could refreeze and cause a hazard to the public and employees. You may hold a business responsible for this and other types of "unnatural" accumulations.

You should discuss your situation with a premises liability attorney who can tell you whether you have a claim.

If I have a claim, what happens next?

As in any other slip-and-fall claim, the appropriate parties will need to be determined. A business owner might be on the list, but if leased, the property owner might be responsible as well.

It will also be necessary to determine the nature and extent of the damages you suffered because of your fall, such as lost income and medical bills incurred during your recovery, among other damages. After the pertinent information is gathered, you have the right to file a lawsuit. It might be possible to settle your claim, but if not, your attorney should be prepared to take the matter to trial.

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