The winter months bring lots of snow, freezing rain and ice to Connecticut, along with potentially treacherous conditions. Slick roads, power outages, and slippery walkways, stairs and parking lots are common.
Premises liability laws require property owners and people who control that property to provide a reasonably safe environment for those who reside on, work on, or are invited onto the property. However, storms lasting for days often don’t allow time for workers to safely remove snow and ice buildups.
Almost everyone in Connecticut has slipped on snow or ice and perhaps fallen as a result. If you slip and fall on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for compensation. Several factors must be examined to determine if your accident qualifies, but the personal injury lawyers from Gould Injury Law know what to look for.
Steps To Take After a Slip and Fall Accident
After being injured in a slip and fall accident, what you do immediately can greatly impact your case. You should:
- Report the accident.
- Obtain medical assessment and treatment.
- Gather evidence, including photos, witness statements, ongoing weather conditions, surveillance videos of the accident as it happened, and your account of how the accident occurred.
- Consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Slip and Fall Accidents
You must have a legal reason to be on someone else’s property to be eligible for compensation if you trip and fall on that property, but that doesn’t mean that every person who slips and falls can obtain compensation. In Connecticut, you must prove that:
- The property owner or property manager was legally required to provide you with a duty of care
- The property manager or owner breached their duty of care
- You were injured in an accident on that property
- The breach of the duty of care directly caused your accident and injury
Duty of Care
To understand the requirements of personal injury cases, you must grasp the meaning of both the duty of care and what breaching that duty of care is.
Duty of care is the legal mandate stating that property owners and managers must take reasonable care to provide a safe environment for those who legally visit the property. That means that they must keep their property in good repair and fix emergent safety hazards in a reasonable amount of time after becoming aware of the situation. They must also warn others about the safety hazard before and during the repair.
Property owners and managers who fail to act to remedy unsafe conditions that they knew about or should have known about in a reasonable time are guilty of negligence. For instance, if they are aware that the handrail on a flight of stairs is broken but don’t fix it or place warning signs advising caution, they can be held liable for injuries sustained because of that broken handrail.
It’s important to note that the hazardous condition must have existed long enough to have been fixed.
Snow and Ice Slips and Falls
The route to obtaining compensation for damages in slip and fall accidents caused by snow and ice is sometimes slippery. Snow and ice can accumulate quickly, especially during blizzards and ongoing storms.
Connecticut residents are all-too-familiar with ongoing winter storms. Snow, hail and freezing rain can fall almost constantly for days on end, often accompanied by high winds. Snow drifts and icy spots can create dangerous conditions likely to make someone slip and fall.
Because of this, Connecticut follows the Ongoing Storm Doctrine. This basically means that property owners and managers aren’t required to clear away dangerous accumulations of winter precipitation until a storm passes unless there are unusual circumstances; people assigned to clearing the snow and ice would be forced to work in unsafe conditions if they did so during a storm. In addition, cleared areas would most likely be covered by snow or ice again quickly, thus negating the workers’ efforts.
Unusual circumstances refer to situations where precipitation has already experienced a changeover, and there is only one way to enter or leave the premises.
Although property owners and managers can’t usually be held liable for slips and falls caused by ongoing storms, they are required to warn visitors that slippery conditions exist. For instance, if a sidewalk is often treacherous due to snow and ice, signs should be posted warning of that risk. In addition, steps should be taken to clear the accumulated snow and ice as soon as possible after the storm ends.
Suppose that you slip and fall on an icy sidewalk in an apartment complex and break your leg as a result. Several questions must be answered to determine your eligibility for compensation:
- Did your accident occur during an ongoing storm?
- Was old snow and ice accumulated from previous snowfalls present?
- Were signs warning of slippery conditions present?
- Was the property owner or manager’s negligence responsible for your accident and resulting injury?
- Was carelessness on your part partially responsible for your slip and fall accident?
- Do you have economic losses directly caused by your slip and fall injury? These include medical expenses, lost wages and certain daily expenses.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence and What They Mean to You
More than one party is sometimes at fault in slip and fall accidents, known as comparative negligence. The property owner and the property’s possessor can share liability for injuries sustained on their property.
Accident victims can also be partially responsible for their slip and fall. Legal visitors should be careful while on someone else’s property and not take actions that could reasonably cause injury. Visitor carelessness leading to an accident is called contributory negligence.
Connecticut is a comparative liability state. This means that if you are partially responsible for your accident, the damages you receive will be reduced by the percentage of your contributing fault. If you are more than 51% responsible for your slip and fall, you are not eligible for any compensation.
Your slip and fall accident attorney will investigate the circumstances leading to your injury to show that you were not at fault or only minimally responsible. In snow and ice slip and fall cases, time is of the essence. Evidence can literally melt away. Hiring a premises liability attorney immediately after your slip and fall accident improves your chances of obtaining crucial evidence.
Gould Injury Law Can Help
Although snow and ice slip and fall accidents can be confusing, rest assured that the aggressive premises personal injury attorneys at Gould Injury Law have experience handling hundreds of cases similar to yours. They will put their knowledge and resources to work for you to obtain maximum compensation for your damages.
Hiring Gould Injury Law prevents you from having to speak to insurance companies or other interested parties directly.
The founder of Gould Injury Law, Robert Gould, brings a unique understanding of how insurance companies operate due to working with one previously. This inside knowledge allows our firm to skirt stalling tactics commonly used by insurance companies to delay paying out fair damages.
If you are a snow and ice slip and fall accident victim, contact one of our offices at (888) WIN-FAST to arrange a free consultation. You can also use the live chat feature or online submission form on our website. We will quickly and competently assess your case.