Icy sidewalk accidents can cause serious injuries. Slipping and falling on unforgiving concrete and ice can result in head injuries, facial injuries, and even spinal cord injuries. Victims may be entitled to damages, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Determining whether you can hold someone liable for your injuries due to a sidewalk slip and fall is a somewhat tricky matter. You have to figure out: 1) who is responsible for maintaining the portion of sidewalk you slipped on, and 2)
whether the property owner’s actions are “negligence” in the eyes of the law. To discuss your legal options with an icy sidewalk accident and injury lawyer in Pittsburgh, call Berger and Green at 412-661-1400 for free consultation.
What causes sidewalk accidents?
It is not uncommon for a large amount of snow and ice to accumulate on sidewalks during cold Pittsburgh winters. But the weather is not really the issue — negligence is.
When owners do not care for their grounds and neglect to remove the snow or de-ice the walkways, that it becomes a problem. The area can become dangerously slick, and it will only be a matter of time before someone slips and gets injured.
Responsible business and homeowners will take steps to quickly tend to ice and other sidewalk hazards when snowy weather hits.
“Using a shovel may be the safest way to remove snow and ice from stoops and sidewalks without damaging the masonry of a building, but sometimes it is not enough. For this reason, de-icing products can provide additional help with the task of cleaning snow and ice,” explains The New York Landmarks Conservancy (TNYLC).
Who is liable for sidewalk accidents?
Liability for icy sidewalk accidents depends on ownership. Pennsylvania premises liability laws provide that property owners need to keep their grounds reasonably safe so as to prevent harm to visitors. This includes their privately-owned adjoining sidewalks and steps.
If property owners — be it a residential homeowner or a business —are negligent in keeping their sidewalk or parking lot safe, victims are able to hold the property owner liable for any injuries sustained.
The same principle applies to city sidewalks owned by a government agency. While government agencies enjoy a great deal of immunity from personal injury lawsuits, the law does not shield them from liability in cases involving sidewalks. In 42 Pa. C.S. § 8542(b) and § 8522(b), the laws stipulate that injured victims may file a claim against a local or state agency for negligence in maintaining sidewalks — so long as they fall within specific facts of negligence.
What injuries do people sustain in sidewalk accidents?
The nature of sidewalk injuries depends a lot on how the person falls and lands. Sprains and strains are not uncommon, but in many cases, the injuries are much more severe.
When people fall forward on icy concrete, they typically sustain injuries such as wrist fractures, forearm fractures, knee injuries, facial injuries, and dental injuries. Falling on their side can result in injuries such as hip fractures and dislocations and shoulder injuries.
When people slip and fall backward on the ice, they sustain injuries such as broken tail bones, back and spinal cord injuries, and head and brain injuries.
And even in near-fall cases, people can sustain injuries. The sudden twisting motion of trying to regain balance can throw the person’s back out of alignment and cause a back sprain or strain.
How do I prove the property owner’s negligence?
Because you are the one filing the injury claim/suit (the plaintiff), you will have the burden of proof. You will need to present evidence that shows that:
- The property owner (defendant) or other party in charge owed you a duty of care (If you were a visitor, guest, or invitee, you have proved that duty. The only people that owners do not owe a duty of care to are trespassers);
- The defendant knew or should have known about the hazard (ice);
- The defendant failed to clear the ice or snow (negligence); and
- The defendant’s negligence is what caused your injuries. The defendant is not liable for your damages if, for example, you were looking down at your phone and slipped because you were not paying attention.
How do you prove that the property owner is at fault? The most useful evidence includes eyewitness statements and photos/videos of the accident scene.
Pictures of the accumulated ice and snow on the walkway is often enough to justify your claim if that snow and ice has accumulated in hills and ridges or as a result of a defective condition of the property itself. If there is any security cam footage of your fall, that is even better. A Berger and Green attorney can help collect evidence that supports your case to provide to the insurance company or court.
What kinds of damages can I recover in an icy sidewalk accident case?
You can obtain compensation for any financial and emotional losses related to your injuries. The overall value of your case depends on the severity of your injuries. A few of the potential compensable damages for an icy sidewalk accident include:
- Medical bills, such as emergency room, hospital, diagnostics, surgeries, chiropractic care, prescriptions, dental work, assistive devices, and physical therapy
- Lost wages while you are recuperating from the accident, future lost wages if you cannot go back to work or if you have to take a lesser-paying position
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional harm and mental health treatments
It is important not to file a claim or agree to a settlement without first having the case reviewed by a premises liability attorney. You may be entitled to a host of damages you have not yet considered, and if you prematurely settle, you will undoubtedly miss out on funds you could have won to pay for bills and ensure you family is provided for.
Your attorney will make certain that your settlement accounts for all of your damages and awards you accordingly. To see the settlements our attorneys have gotten for past personal injury clients, check out our cases and verdicts page.
How do I take action and start seeking compensation for my injuries?
To begin, contact our premises liability attorney that handles icy sidewalk accidents to discuss your case. Our team can evaluate your case and determine it justifies a claim or suit, and then explain how best to approach it in order to recover top dollar. Call at Berger and Green today at 412-661-1400 for a free, no-obligation consultation.