SNOW & ICE INJURIES
Winter time inevitably causes people to slip on snow and ice. They don't wear the right shoes or boots, the driveway wasn't plowed and the street wasn't sanded. If you fall and injure yourself while slipping on snow or ice, can you be compensated (get money) for your injuries?
The short answer is maybe. In any snow and ice case we look to see what the condition was like at the time you fell. If it was the middle of a blizzard and nobody had time to clear the parking lot in the middle of the night, it's not looking good to be able to prove that the owner of the property should have taken steps to clear the lot of snow and ice. The key to proving liability in a snow and ice case is whether the owner of the property knew of a dangerous condition and failed to timely act to correct it. This is called 'notice'. If the owner didn't know about a dangerous condition, how can he be held responsible for your injuries? He won't be. But, what if the icy condition existed for a few days or weeks? Everybody who lived nearby always saw the ice and nobody ever salted or sanded the ice. In that situation we would argue that the owner of the property knew, or should have known, that there was a dangerous and icy condition on his property.
What if someone actually tells the owner of the property about an icy area of his lot and he doesn't do anything to fix the problem? Well, as long as nobody gets hurt, he's avoided a lawsuit. However, if someone does get injured at that location, after someone has specifically notified him of a dangerous condition, and he fails to correct the danger, then in all probability he will be held responsible for failing to prevent injuries at that location.
Sometimes, the owner hires a snow removal company (a snow plow) to plow the driveway, street, sidewalk or parking lot. In some cases, these snow plow companies don't do a good job and leave piles of snow in areas where they will melt, re-freeze, and then create sheets of ice throughout the property. If the snow plow or property owner knew that putting all that snow at the top of the hill wasn't a good location, there are some cases where the owner or snow plow operator will be held responsible for your injuries.
If you fall and are injured during the winter months it is very important that you do three things:
(1) Look around to see what you slipped on. Take a mental note about the conditions where you fell and the surrounding conditions.
(2) When possible, get photographs of the condition as soon as possible after you fell. This will preserve evidence of what the area looked like when you fell. Make sure you take at least an entire roll of film, from all different angles. Don't just take a picture of the ice. Look for a street sign, a building, and an address that can also get in the picture. This way you can positively identify the location where you fell, at a later date. If you use a digital camera do not ever make any changes or alterations to your photos when you provide them to your attorney.
(3) If you don't go to the hospital or a doctor immediately, you should report your accident to the owner of the property to put them on notice of your accident.
Injuries from slipping on ice or snow can be very serious and can include broken bones and the need for surgery. Take time to think whether this could have been prevented. Or was your fall simple carelessness that could have been prevented if you were paying attention to where you were walking? The answer is sometimes difficult to answer. That's why an experienced injury attorney can help guide you and advise you about your legal rights. The longer you wait to speak to an attorney, the greater chance you have of forgetting important information that could help you in a potential case.
The best advice is to be careful while outside and to make sure you're wearing the right winter gear. But even that doesn't always prevent an injury.
Ice skating injuries - They happen. It's a fact. Even to experienced skaters. You will always see big signs posted at every entrance to every skating rink in New York that ice skating is a dangerous sport. The warning will say that you "Skate at your own risk." That is the same as saying buyer beware!
We know that many sports are inherently dangerous, yet millions of people aren't going to stop participating in dangerous sports just because of the obvious dangers. Just the other day, Newsday reported on a tragedy involving a 15 year old girl who died while snowtubing at Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. Importantly, this girl and her teenage friends were on a skiing slope that had already closed for the day. The incident happened at 7:00 p.m., and the key fact here is that the slopes closed at 4:00 p.m. There were signs posted all across the ski resort that slopes were off limits after 4:00 p.m. because of snowmaking and snow grooming activities. Also, there was no snowtubing allowed on any ski slope.
What happened? The girl could not control the snowtube and went off the trail, tragically causing her death. Is the resort responsible for her untimely death? In all likelihood the answer is no. She engaged in a dangerous activity, in a prohibited and restricted area. The snowtube is uncontrollable- which is what makes it so much fun. However, snowtubes are typically used in special areas or chutes designed to keep the tubes in a runway style area, so that there is no way to run off a trail.
Many people have tried to sue skating rinks and ski resorts for injuries they suffered while engaging in these fun filled but dangerous activities. Most have failed. On occasion there have been successes, but those are the exceptions. Where you actively choose to engage in a dangerous activity and disregard the hazards and dangers associated with that activity (rock climbing, water skiing, sky diving), you run the risk of injury and the chance that you will not be able to bring a successful lawsuit for your injuries. But remember, every case is different. Let an experienced injury attorney evaluate your own case.
Be careful out there this winter, and have fun while you can.