Ice is a beautiful thing. It can create a winter wonderland or keep your drink cold on a hot day. But when it coats the sidewalks, it becomes a hazard. Every year, people slip and fall on icy sidewalks and the resulting injuries can range from minor to life-threatening.
But what happens if someone slips and falls on a patch of ice right in front of your home? Are you liable for their ice sidewalk slip and fall injuries? While the answer isn’t always clear, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself from liability in this situation.
If you’re unsure of your legal obligations, read on for some information about ice sidewalk slip and fall lawsuits in Connecticut.
Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
Generally, a property owner is not responsible for damages caused by the natural accumulation of ice or snow on his or her property. This responsibility usually rests with the municipality that has jurisdiction over the area where the damage occurred, as it is that entity’s responsibility to keep public sidewalks in a safe condition.
This does not mean, however, that a landowner can allow accumulated snow and ice to remain on his or her walkway for an extended period of time without any action being taken. A property owner could be held liable if injuries result from such negligence.
Generally speaking, a person who voluntarily removes ice or snow from his or her own walkway is not liable for injuries caused to others. However, there are instances where liability could be imposed if someone voluntarily removes ice or snow from an area adjacent to a sidewalk without first notifying the authorities about the dangerous condition.
The Property Owner’s Duty of Care and Winter Weather Hazards
The property owner has a duty of care to exercise due diligence in the inspection, supervision, and control of their premises. This is because they know or should know what is occurring on their property, whether involving licensees, trespassers, or invitees. The extent of this duty will always depend upon the facts of each case since no two cases are exactly alike.
A licensee is someone who enters onto land for his own purposes but with the consent of the defendant. A licensee may be expressly invited onto land or actually present without any invitation at all (for example, as a neighbor).
A business guest can also act as a licensee if they are not specifically invited onto land by name but are allowed to come onto land for company purposes provided that they remain under the control of the business owner.
A defendant’s liability to a licensee is generally limited as long as there has been no negligence in allowing them onto land. However, if the licensee intends to commit an immoral or illegal act upon entering, then this will break any consent that may have been given by the defendant allowing access to the premises.
Conditions During the Incident
If someone slips and falls due to your negligence, you may be liable for the injuries they sustain. The number one issue in these kinds of cases is “Conditions During the Incident.” These are factors that either increase or decrease the probability of an injury occurring.
It is important to note that the injured person will be entitled to recover damages if they can prove your negligence was a substantial factor in causing the injury. If you are found negligent, not all of their damages will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance or commercial liability policy (if you own a store/restaurant).
During a trial, it may be determined that serious injuries causing permanent damage are entitled to uncapped compensation. Capping an injury award halves the chance of having a jury award an injured party more than what has been offered by your insurance company or business’ insurance carrier.
You have a responsibility to clear the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of your home or business. You can face liability if you don’t do this within a reasonable amount of time. A slip-and-fall accident is all too common during winter months when sidewalks are covered with snow and ice and the consequences could be severe.
In Connecticut, people who own property where there is a risk for injury due to slippery conditions can avoid liability by taking reasonable care to prevent harm to pedestrians. This includes removing snow and ice from outdoor walkways within 24 hours after a storm ends (or at least once per week).