As a Pennsylvanian, you're probably no stranger to the cold weather, blustery winds, and below zero temperatures. And you're likely familiar with the dangers that winter weather can bring.
Snow and ice – especially as it accumulates on sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, and walkways – can be extremely hazardous. Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious head, hip, and arm injuries.
We often hear from clients who are embarrassed for falling, or they feel like it was their fault. That's often not the case. Property owners have a responsibility for clearing away hazardous conditions and keeping their homes, businesses, and apartment buildings safe.
Slip and fall accidents can be tricky – even more so when there's snow and ice involved. With all the winter weather, it can be difficult to understand who's responsible for clearing away slip and fall dangers. This is referred to as "premises liability," and it breaks down like this:
Owning a home means you are responsible for snow and ice removal. This includes walkways, driveways, and sidewalks among other areas. If someone is injured on your property, you could be held legally responsible for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
When snow and ice are involved, parking lots and business entrances can become extremely slick and dangerous. It's the responsibility of the business owner to maintain safe conditions on their property. If you suffer a fall from unsalted or unkempt walkways at a business, they could be responsible for your medical bills and lost wages.
Snow and ice removal can become confusing when you're occupying a rental property. Check your lease agreement to see if the landlord or property management company is responsible for shoveling and salting walkways. Depending on the lease, this may be the tenants' responsibility.
Municipalities all have different rules regarding snow removal. In Pittsburgh, for instance, snow must be cleared from sidewalks and walkways within 24 hours. If you fail to clear your property, you could receive citations or fines.
However, we don't encourage waiting 24 hours to grab your shovel and hit the snow. In Pittsburgh, if there's a reasonable amount of time to clear your property within the 24-hour window, you could still be held responsible for injuries.
Also, shoveling while the snow is still falling can break a single exhausting task into a few easier ones. Follow these great snow removal tips to make your job just a little bit easier.
Ice and snow can disappear just as quickly as it arrives, which can make these slip and fall accidents hard to prove. And we know that you don't want to "sue" your friend or family member after you've fallen at their home. Fortunately, that's not how it works.
We hear from clients who share these concerns. We try to stress that it's not the owner of the home who pays for medical bills and lost wages, it's the homeowner's insurance company. The homeowner – whether it’s a friend or family member – has insurance for this exact reason.
If you've been injured in a slip and fall on snow or ice, give our law firm a call at 1-866-943-3427. It's absolutely free, and we'll connect you with a legal professional who can answer all your questions. There's never an obligation to hire us after you call. We're available any time, so you can call us day or night.