When can a property owner be held liable for your fall on ice or snow?
This winter has definitely been far more brutal than San Antonians are used to. If you’re not used to dealing with snow and ice, outdoor steps, walkways and driveways can become treacherous places to walk.
A fall – particularly on a cement walk covered in ice – can cause serious injuries. You may face substantial medical bills and perhaps lost wages if you’re unable to work due to your injuries. Is the property owner liable
for your expenses and damages? It depends.
When are property owners most likely to be held liable?
Typically, property owners aren’t expected to remove ice and snow from walkways and other areas in the middle of a storm or immediately thereafter. Even the day following an overnight snowfall, a property owner might not be obligated to shovel or de-ice (especially since the products needed to do so aren’t as plentiful here as in the northern parts of the country).
However, if a property owner has allowed ice and snow to accumulate
for days on their walkways, outdoor steps, parking lot or other areas where people need to walk, they are more likely to be considered liable for injuries. That’s particularly true if there is no cleared path to get to the building or if the ground is covered only with ice, which can be invisible.
Documenting the scene can be helpful
If you or a loved one has fallen, your first instinct might not be to grab your phone and start photographing the scene. However, if you can do so, it will help your case. Otherwise, the property owner could clean things up afterwards and claim that you were lying. It can help if you can show that there was no clear pathway that you could have used instead of the one where you fell.
Whether the property is a private home or a business, the owner should have insurance that will help cover claims for injuries. However, insurance companies aren’t anxious to pay out – and certainly no more than they have to. If you’re not being offered the compensation you need o cover your expenses, it may be wise to consult an attorney.