If you Slipped on Ice or Snow, you should not be out of pocket for your Injuries
Winter weather can bring lots of danger. From driving on slick roads, to hurting your back shoveling snow, you must tread carefully in the winter. If you’ve had a fall on a slick pavement, there are personal injury laws that may protect you, and ensure you are compensated adequately for your injuries.
This kind of accident can happen at any time, anywhere. Many people believe that it is their fault the accident happened or are too embarrassed to reach out for legal help. Many slip, trip, and fall accidents happen at family and friends homes and businesses, and it seems wrong to sue. Often, it seems there is no help for someone who was injured in a slip, trip, and fall.
The laws of the United States and Pennsylvania are designed to protect you from expensive medical bills after you are injured in an accident that is not your fault. Businesses and homeowners have insurance specifically to prevent you from having to live a life of pain and suffering after an accident. Our Philadelphia based injury firm will help you navigate the complex process of filing a claim for your injuries, prevent insurance companies from using the law against you to settle for less than you need, and make sure that you and your family get the help you will need from the first call until long after we win your case.
Medical Bills Can Pile up Fast
With an injury big or small, there will be medical bills. Sometimes these bills can pile up quickly. If you are seeing different specialists, and getting expensive tests done like an MRI, your medical bills will very quickly be thousands of dollars. Let a personal injury lawyer help you, so that you do not have to pay any medical bills as a result of your slip and fall on a surface that was not properly maintained.
In addition to medical bills you are currently facing because of your condition, we will also work to project future medical bills that you will occur as a result of your injuries. We will work to ensure you are compensated for all medical bills, past, present, and future, that you occurred as a result of slipping and falling in icy and snowy walkways;.
You May Lose Work
If you get injured, you could also lose your job. If you hurt your shoulder, and work, for example, in a hospital where you need to lift patients, you will be unable to perform our job duties. Not only should you be compensated for lost wages, but you should also be compensated for any work you will lose in the future.
We will calculate for you the amount of future earnings that you stand to lose because of your injury. You are entitled to every penny of that money, and we will ensure that your finances do not suffer because of your slip and fall.
Pain and Suffering
Let’s face it, on top of the medical bills, and the embarrassment of falling, you’re likely just in a lot of pain. Slipping and falling on ice causes a variety of injuries from head and neck pain to shoulders, hips, and even feet and ankles.
While you might not find it easy to put a specific dollar amount on how much your pain is worth, we can help with that. Our legal office has experience with personal injury law, and we can tell you historically what your type of injury has been paid out in court. We will react accordingly, and ensured that you are paid to the maximum for the pain in suffering you feel now. If your injuries are the type to typically linger into the future, we will account for that as well. Nobody ever wants to be in pain or to be suffering, but we can at least help ensure you are paid for your misfortune.
The Pennsylvania Laws on Responsibility for Ice and Snow Accidents
Pennsylvania requires all businesses, rental properties, and public agencies to clear ice and snow from public walkways, pathways, stairwells, and parking areas. Many cities such as Philadelphia also have specific rules in place to prevent injuries to the public resulting from accumulated snow and ice. The courts have recognized that it is not reasonable to require responsible parties to clear snow and ice immediately, or to ensure that ice and snow accumulations during non-business hours are the sole responsibility of the property owner.
Numerous other limitations to filing claims for slip, trip, and fall injuries in icy and snowy conditions exist that are often used by insurance company lawyers to limit or prevent claims. Known as the “Hills and Ridges Doctrine,” Pennsylvania courts recognize that specific conditions must exist before a property owner can be held liable for injuries resulting from a slip, trip, and fall. The Hills and Ridges Doctrine guides the courts by stating that property owners that fail to clear accumulations of snow and ice that create an uneven, slippery, and unnecessarily dangerous situation are in violation of the duty to protect the public from harm.
The Hills and Ridges Doctrine has been used to defend property owners numerous times. Many property owners have been shielded from responsibility by applying the condition that icy and snowy conditions must prevail in the community. By using this provision, lawyers are able to successfully argue that clearing ice and snow would present an impossible requirement, potentially eliminating or reducing responsibility. A case won by defendants in 2012 found that an individual who was injured in a slip and fall accident did not meet the threshold for a premises liability because the accident happened after business hours and on smooth ice that was free of ridges and valleys.
Similarly, the courts have rejected claims that arise during an active storm. Several plaintiffs have brought slip and fall claims caused by accumulated ice and snow in recent years, only to lose. The courts have reasoned that slip and falls that happen during times of active storm activity are not the liability of the owner of the property. Several cases, though, have been found in favor of claimants when the walkway itself was defective and was the cause of the slip, trip, and fall.
Snow and Ice Laws in Philadelphia
Winter brings an abundance of weather to Philadelphia. Some days, we see freezing rain, snow, black ice, and wind. Conditions like these create treacherous situations for drivers and pedestrians alike. The City of Philadelphia has specific laws for how residents must handle their property to avoid fines and the possibility of a premises liability lawsuit.
Philadelphia Code 10-270 requires property owners to clear a 36” pathway unless the total sidewalk width is less than 36”, in which case a 12” path is mandated. Owners must comply within six hours of when snow ceases to fall or be subject to fines. Fines range from $50 to $300 and can be compounded by the number of days the owner is in violation. A fine may also be issued for owners who shovel snow into the street.
Slipping on Ice
Slipping on an icy or snowy walkway could cause you significant injuries. Businesses are obligated to maintain clean walkways,even during inclement weather. Homeowners must keep sidewalks and walkways in front of their homes cleaned off. In short, there must be walkways that are clean from snow and ice.
If you had a slip and fall on a walkway that was not cleaned up from a recent snow or ice storm, you should not have to pay for any medical bills related to your injuries. There are personal injury laws in place that will protect you, the victim of unmaintained walkways. You also should not have to worry about losing your job. A good personal injury lawyer will help protect your rights as you deal with these injuries.
Who is Responsible for Your Ice & Snow Slip and Fall Injury?
Hundreds of ice & Snow-related slip and fall accidents happen every winter in Pennsylvania, but few people injured actually seek a legal remedy. Often, people do not file a claim because they believe they are at fault, or they do not want to get the responsible person in trouble. Generally, personal injury law in Pennsylvania is not a “punitive” system. Settlements and awards are intended to cover medical costs, lost wages, and provide relief from the consequences of an injury. Typically, settlements and awards are not used to make an example of a responsible person. The exception is when the responsible persons conduct is so egregious as to rise to the level of malicious intent. A person would have to deliberately create a slip and fall hazard with the intention of causing harm for a claim in Pennsylvania to merit a punitive award.
Instead, personal injury awards and settlements are negotiated between attorneys and insurance agents. Medical care and costs are accounted for through discussion, and in nearly all cases, a settlement agreement is reached. Very few slip and fall claims go to trial.
Pennsylvania law places responsibility of ice and snow removal on property owners or persons who are in charge of maintaining public safety. The law requires that snow and ice be removed from all public walkways, ramps, stairs, and parking areas. Homeowners are responsible for the sidewalk in front of their home. Rental communities are the responsibility of the property owner, not the renters. Retail businesses are generally responsible for all or part of the walkways, ramps, stairs, and parking areas.
In many cases, property owners will hire a company to clear ice and snow.Most companies have contracts indemnifying property owners of liability for slip and fall accidents once the clearing work has been completed. However, property owners may still be held liable for injuries caused after a company has cleared an area and the property owner has shoveled snow back into the cleared area. Under the law, property owners must have known or been able to conclude that a dangerous situation was probable and failed to correct it.
The presence of ice and snow in and of itself is not enough to win a claim of slip and fall in Pennsylvania. The law that is established requires the presence of “ridges and valleys” typically the result of ice melting and refreezing over a period of several hours. When fresh snow falls, it tends to make these areas appear as flat surfaces, but can easily cause serious falls. The courts have ruled that minor indentations, such as those left by footprints, do not constitute ridges and valleys. The surface must be sufficient to present an obstacle to travel.
In order to win a claim of slip and fall on ice and snow in Pennsylvania, the injured person must also prove that the accumulated ice and snow caused the slip and fall. This can often be the most difficult aspect of proving a claim. There is no standard for what constitutes a “ridge or hill”, or even what amounts to an “obstruction.” Rather, the courts take each case individually and will examine whether a responsible person had time to clear the path, what the conditions in relation to similar areas were at the time of the injury, and whether the path was unnecessarily dangerous.
What can you do following an accident ?
If possible, take photographs of the walkway where you slipped and fell. This will help prove the inclement conditions. Take note of when the ice or snow accumulated. Did you slip 30 minutes after a snowfall or three days? The longer since the snow and ice fell, the more negligent the property owner has behaved.
Furthermore, make sure you go to the doctors as needed. Do not be scared of paying a medical bill now. You will get the money back later. If you do not go to the doctors, have the tests, and get a diagnosis, it will be more difficult to establish your injury. Take care of yourself. The most important factor in all of this is your health and well-being. Do exactly as the doctor prescribes. Keep track of your expenses and your bills, but most importantly take your medicine and listen to the doctor.
Do not contact the business or homeowner directly. Leave that part to us, as any contact you have could be detrimental to your case.
How We Help You Win Your Case
We have won hundreds of ice and snow-related slip and fall cases. Our decades of experience in Philadelphia gives us an unprecedented level of knowledge of the unique laws. We are intricately familiar with the tactics used by insurance companies who are focused on profit margins, not your health. The slip and fall lawyers at Philly Injury Law only care about making sure you or your injured loved one receives the medical, financial, and long-term help you need to recover from an ice and snow slip and fall accident.
Our staff and injury lawyers will examine the facts of your claim and identify all potential responsible parties. We will make sure that you do not lose benefits because you filed against the wrong person, or did not file against all of those who have responsibility. We make sure that your court documents are filed correctly, completely, and on time, so you do not have to worry about the procedure, just the healing. Most importantly, our lawyers make sure that insurance agents intent on settling your case quickly for as little as they can get away with do not bully you and your family into a settlement that leaves you with a lifetime of pain.
Slipping and falling on an icy or snowy walkway is more than an unfortunate accident. In most case, the business or homeowner could have prevented the slip and fall with better maintenance of their walkways. Do not let their negligence of their property cause you unnecessary pain and suffering.
Our experience is also in dealing with insurance companies. We understand that you may or may not have insurance, and there might be a battle between your insurance company and the property owner’s insurance company. We can hash that battle out for you, taking that headache off of your hands while you heal, rest, and recover from your injuries.
We are experts in personal injury law. Our experience knowing the legal system inside and out is going to help make sure all of your legal rights are taken care of. You not need to worry about your employment opportunities or your finances.