Snow or ice during winter months presents a significant injury risk. These injuries range from minor bruises to severe conditions such as fractures or traumatic brain injuries. Understanding the causes and preventive measures is crucial for minimizing these risks. This brief details steps to take after a fall on snow or ice and provides insights into an effective strategy to win a claim.
What is a snow or ice fall injury?
A snow or ice fall injury refers to injuries sustained due to slipping or falling on icy or snowy surfaces. These incidents often occur during winter months and can result in various injuries, from minor bruises to severe fractures.
What steps should you take if you’re injured falling on snow or ice?
Step 1: Seek medical attention
Prioritize your health: Seek medical attention promptly, even if injuries seem minor at first. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, and a medical professional can provide an accurate assessment.
Medical records: Be sure doctors and other medical personnel who treat you document that your injuries occurred falling on snow or ice and the location where it happened. This record is essential to establish a connection between the incident and your injuries.
Step 2: Document the scene
Photographic evidence: Capture clear photographs or videos of the accident scene, emphasizing the icy or snowy conditions that contributed to your fall. Capture evidence of lack of maintenance or any other factors that contributed to the accident.
Time stamp: If possible, ensure that the photograph or videos have a time stamp. This can help establish when the incident occurred.
Step 3: Collect witness information
Witness information: Ask for contact information of witnesses, and if willing, obtain written or recorded statements of what they observed. Witnesses can provide crucial support for your claim.
Step 4: Report the incident
Official record: Report the incident to relevant authorities or property owners as soon as possible. This creates an official record of the accident and notifies responsible parties.
Documentation: Keep a copy of any incident reports filed with property owners or authorities.
Step 5: Preserve evidence
Clothing and footwear: Keep the clothing and footwear you were wearing at the time of the fall. This evidence can help demonstrate the conditions of the area and could be relevant to your case.
Step 6: Note weather conditions
Document weather: Note the weather conditions at the time of the incident. Snowfall, ice accumulation, temperature, and other weather-related factors can be critical in establishing liability.
Step 7: Identify responsible parties
Property owners and managers: Determine who may be responsible for maintaining the property where the incident occurred. This could include property owners, managers, or maintenance personnel.
Step 8: Consult with an attorney
Legal guidance: Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in slip-and-fall cases. They can assess the strength of your claim, help you understand your rights, and guide you through the legal process.
Insurance claims: Your attorney can also assist in dealing with insurance companies and negotiating a fair settlement.
By diligently following these steps, you can enhance your chances of a successful claim and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Who is liable for injuries caused by falling on snow or ice?
In cases of snow or ice fall injuries, liability typically falls on the person or entity responsible for keeping the property clear of snow and ice:
- Person or company that owns the property: Property owners are usually responsible for maintaining safe conditions on their premises and are held liable for injuries caused by snow or ice if they fail to remove or warn of such hazards. If you slip and fall due to an owner’s failure to clear ice and snow, the property owner might be liable for any resulting harm.
- Person or company hired to look after the property: If a property owner hires someone to manage or maintain their property, then that person or company shares liability for injuries resulting from snow or ice if they neglect their duties.
- Any person to whom the owner has ceded control of the property: If the property owner has transferred control to another person, such as a tenant who leases the premises, then that person may bear responsibility for ensuring safe conditions and preventing injuries caused by snow or ice.
- Government entity: If you fall on public property, such as a park or sidewalk, you may be able to claim damages from the city, county, or other governmental entity responsible for maintaining the property. However, laws regarding when a government entity can be sued, and its liability for damages, differ from place to place and can be complicated. An experienced personal injury attorney in your area can advise you regarding whether you might have a claim against the government.
- Multiple parties: Liability can sometimes be shared among multiple parties, including the property owner, property managers, and people responsible for maintenance.
Proving liability in an injury claim for falling on snow or ice
The following should be established to win an injury claim for falling on snow or ice:
- Existence of dangerous snow or icy conditions: To establish a valid claim, it’s crucial to demonstrate that the presence of snow or ice created a hazardous environment, leading to the fall.
- Responsibility of another person or business: Proving liability involves showing that the person or company in control of the premises, such as a property owner or municipality, had a duty to maintain safe conditions, including addressing snow and ice issues.
- Responsible person or business either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition: Establishing liability requires demonstrating that the responsible party was aware or should have been aware of the dangerous snow or ice conditions. This can involve evidence of past incidents or lack of proper maintenance.
- Responsible person or business had an opportunity to correct or warn of the dangerous condition prior to the fall: Proving negligence involves showing that the responsible party had the chance to address the hazardous conditions, either by removing the snow or ice, putting down rock salt, or providing adequate warnings to prevent accidents.
- Falling on the snow and ice caused your injuries: Finally, it’s essential to establish a direct connection between the slip-and-fall and the resulting injuries. Medical documentation and evidence of the injuries are crucial in this aspect.
How much does it cost to claim damages if injured by falling on snow or ice?
The cost of pursuing a snow fall accident claim primarily includes attorney fees and other litigation costs, and these expenses will vary from one case to another.
Attorney fees: Legal fees in a snowfall injury case typically are paid on a contingency basis. Under this arrangement, payment is dependent on obtaining a settlement or succeeding at trial, with the attorney receiving a percentage of the recovered amount, typically ranging from 20 to 40 percent, with an average of 33 percent. The precise percentage is established in a written agreement upon hiring the attorney. It is crucial to have a thorough discussion with your attorney to clarify the details of the contingency fee agreement. Initial consultations with personal injury lawyers are often free. During this consultation, you can discuss the details of your case without incurring any upfront costs.
Other expenses: Additional expenses in legal proceedings can include deposition costs, fees for expert witnesses, filing fees, travel expenses, court-related outlays, administrative charges, and various other costs. The overall amount fluctuates depending on the facts and complexity of the case, its location, and the extent of trial involvement. It’s important to have a clear written agreement with your attorney regarding who will be responsible for expenses in the event of an unsuccessful trial or failure to reach a settlement and whether you will be required to cover any costs upfront.
How long do I have to file a claim if I’m injured falling on snow or ice?
Every state has its own statute of limitations. For example, in California and Texas, the time limit is two years. Florida allows four years to file a claim. In New York, you generally have three years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. Consult with a personal injury attorney in your area to be sure you don’t miss the deadline to file your claim.
Why should I hire an attorney if I’m injured falling on snow or ice?
Attorneys specializing in personal injury law are familiar with the legal intricacies of fall cases. They can determine if you have a valid claim. Building a strong case often requires meticulous investigation. Attorneys can help gather evidence to support your case, such as surveillance footage, witness statements, and data on the weather conditions at the time of the incident.
An attorney can help determine whether the property owner, occupier, or another party is at fault. This involves assessing factors such as negligence and the duty of care owed to visitors. An attorney can handle negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf. Attorneys can help assess economic and noneconomic damages, including medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, an attorney can represent you in court. They can effectively present your case to a judge and jury, arguing for the compensation you deserve.
It’s important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a snow or ice fall accident to ensure that you understand your rights and to make sure all steps are taken to promptly gather important evidence.
What is an ice or snow fall accident?
An ice or snow fall accident refers to incidents in which individuals slip, trip, or fall on icy or snowy surfaces, leading to injuries. These accidents commonly occur during winter conditions and can result in various injuries, prompting individuals to consider legal action for compensation.
Who is liable for injuries caused by falling on snow or ice?
Liability for injuries caused by falling on snow or ice can vary. Property owners, municipalities, or occupiers of premises might be held responsible if negligence is proven. Determining liability often involves assessing the legal duties of various parties to keep walkways free of hazards, as well as warning signage (or the lack thereof) and other factors related to safety.
Can I file a claim if I fall on snow or ice?
Yes, you can file a compensation claim if you are injured in a fall on snow or ice, and your fall was the result of negligence on the part of the property owner or other party responsible for maintaining the safety of the location where you fell.
How do you prove a claim for injury resulting from a fall on snow or ice?
Proving liability in a claim for injuries sustained in a fall on snow or ice involves identifying the party or parties with a legal duty to keep the property safe and providing evidence that they failed to keep the property free of icy or snowy hazards, failed to mitigate the hazard by, for example, putting down rock salt, or failed to warn of the existence of the unsafe conditions. Your attorney can advise you on other evidence you might need to support your claim, such as eyewitness testimonies or expert witnesses.
How long do I have to file a claim if I’m injured falling on snow or ice?
The deadline for filing a claim for injuries sustained in a fall on snow or ice varies by state. Depending on the state in which the accident occurs, you typically would have two to four years to file a claim. It's crucial to act promptly and consult a legal professional to assess the viability of your claim and know when the filing deadline will be.
What steps should I take if I’m injured falling on snow or ice?
- Seek medical attention promptly, even if injuries seem minor at first. Medical records may be needed if you file a legal claim.
- Take photographs or video recordings of the accident scene.
- Collect contact details of witnesses, and get written or recorded accounts of what they saw.
- Report the incident to relevant authorities or property owners as soon as possible.
- Preserve evidence, including the clothing and footwear you wore during the fall.
- Document the weather conditions that could have contributed to the incident.
- Determine who is in charge of taking care of the property where the incident occurred.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in cases involving injuries from falling in snow and ice.
How much does it cost to claim for damages if injured by falling on snow or ice?
Pursuing a snowfall accident claim involves attorney fees (usually 20 to 40 percent of any jury award or settlement, on a contingency basis) and other litigation expenses such as filing fees, deposition costs, and in some cases, expert witness fees. The total cost varies based on case complexity and location. Initial consultations with personal injury lawyers are typically free. In a contingency-fee arrangement, you only pay attorneys fees if you successfully win or settle the case; however, it is important to clarify in a written agreement whether you’ll be responsible for any other litigation costs.