Winter weather-related slip and fall accidents result in medical costs ranging from $30,000 to nearly $50,000 on average each year. Financial damages to that degree can cause major devastation. Accumulated snow or ice is often easy to spot and avoid, but black ice is different. It was categorized separately because it is difficult to see and dangerous to encounter. If you slipped, fell, and sustained an injury on black ice, you might benefit from talking to an attorney.
Why Is Black Ice So Dangerous?
Black ice is not actually black. It forms when rainwater or melted snow freezes in thin, transparent layers on a paved surface, making the blacktop below is visible. This typically happens overnight when the sun is down. According to the Federal Highway Administration, hazardous road conditions caused by black ice are responsible for thousands of wrecks every year. Black ice on sidewalks and in parking lots can cause injury or even death as well.
What If You Slip and Fall on Black Ice in a Parking Lot?
Parking lot slip and falls can present a unique set of circumstances. Does the duty of care for a store owner extend to the parking lot? In Connecticut, the answer is yes. Store owners, whether it is a small proprietorship or a large corporate chain, are responsible for maintaining the parking lot connected to their stores. However, if you slip and fall in a parking lot, there are others that could carry liability.
In states where snow accumulates regularly, businesses contract snow removal companies to maintain safe conditions in parking lots. If the snow removal company failed to complete the job or do it properly, you may have the right to sue them rather than the owner.
What Damages Can You Recover?
In a personal injury case, you may recover any losses, known as damages, contributed to the injury. There are two damages categories:
- Special compensatory damages are economical and easily quantified. They include the cost of medical bills, loss of wages, and costs associated with altered plans. If your injury will cause continued medical treatment and future loss of wages, that is also included.
- General compensatory damages are non-economical and more difficult to quantify. They include pain and suffering or emotional distress.
Punitive damages almost never apply in slip and fall cases. They apply if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant behaved in a way that was malicious or contemptible.
What Do You Need to Know About Slip and Fall Laws in Connecticut?
The winter season in Connecticut is long, and it sometimes snows from November to April. On sunny days, snow melts and freezes again as the temperature drops. The result is patches of black ice. To try and avoid slip and fall accidents, property owners should clear snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time. If someone is injured due to a property owner’s negligence, he or she may seek compensation for damages caused by the injury. If you were involved in a black ice slip and fall in Connecticut, be aware of the following slip and fall laws.
Trespassing Can Affect Eligibility to Sue
If you were trespassing on someone’s property when you fell and sustained an injury, you are not eligible for protection under slip and fall laws. In Connecticut, two factors together constitute trespassing:
- Remaining on the premises after the owner has instructed you to leave.
- Knowingly staying on private property without license or privilege to be there.
If trespassing laws may apply to your case, contact a personal injury lawyer that specializes in slip and fall accidents for advice.
Property Possession Over Ownership
Under Connecticut law, the property owner is responsible for clearing snow and ice accumulated during winter weather. This law pertains to business owners, residential property owners, and government agencies. Landlords are also expected to keep their property safe for renters and visitors, but there are exceptions.
The law recognizes that the person in possession of the property is not always the owner. Under slip and fall law, the person controlling the property at the time of the fall is responsible for maintaining safety standards. For example, realty firms often own several properties and contract property managers to take care of them. In this case, the property manager, rather than the owner, would be liable for damages caused by neglecting to keep the property safe.
Ongoing Storm Exceptions
All New England states have some form of ongoing storm laws that apply to snow and ice accumulation. Property owners cannot clear snow and ice during consistent winter weather. They are not liable for slippery conditions during ongoing storms. To determine fault in a slip and fall case, the claimant has to prove that the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to prevent or clear hazards. That is not the case in persistent, inclement weather.
Because Connecticut experiences harsh winter weather every year, property owners are required to warn visitors of areas that are dangerous. For example, if a particular area of the sidewalk pools water and turns to black ice, the owner should place a sign near the area to warn others. They are also required to clear the property after the storm subsides. They have up to six hours to finish.
Statute of Limitations
You have two years from the time of your accident to file a personal injury claim in Connecticut. This does not mean that you should wait two years. Waiting too long to file weakens your case. The law recognizes that injuries sometimes develop over time and take longer to diagnose.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Connecticut’s modified comparative negligence rule recognizes that the plaintiff sometimes bears some responsibility in a slip and fall personal injury case. If you slip and fall on another person’s property, you may still collect compensation for your injuries as long as you are found less than 50 percent liable. For example, if you are found 10 percent liable, the property owner is responsible for 90 percent of damages.
How Can a Black Ice Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Help You?
The aftermath of a black ice slip and fall injury is difficult for someone that just sustained an injury. Without legal representation, filing a claim requires a huge time investment, and proving fault is burdensome. An attorney relieves that burden and gives you the time that you need to heal. Some advantages of retaining lawyers include:
- They understand the legal process and have experience handling cases similar to yours.
- The insurance company is less likely to battle your claim with bad faith tactics.
- You may recover more compensation.
- They know how to value your general compensatory damages.
- They will handle all legal filing and reporting.
- They can get you better medical assistance when necessary.
- They can gather evidence to dispute claims of liability put forth by the defendant.
- They have access to experts that help with the investigation.
- They tend to work on contingency, which means that they get paid when you do.
The most significant advantage is that they offer support when you need it most. If you sustained an injury in a black ice slip and fall in Connecticut, you do not have to go through the pain of filing a lawsuit alone. Contact a slip and fall accident lawyer at Gould Injury Law today.