Intense winter weather is just around the corner in Illinois and that means that the potential for snow and ice-related injuries will be increasing significantly. If you or a loved one are injured in a slip and fall accident caused by snow or ice, you may wonder what the laws are regarding liability for snow and ice injuries. Are property owners legally required to remove snow and ice from their walkways and parking lots? Can residential property owners be held liable for failure to remove snow and ice? Understanding Illinois laws regarding liability for snow and ice injuries is key to knowing your rights after an injury caused by ice or snow.
Unnatural Accumulation of Snow and Ice
Illinois property owners cannot be expected to keep their properties completely free of snow and ice. It is simply impossible to keep up with harsh Illinois winters in this way. However, property owners are responsible for preventing avoidable injuries caused by “unnatural accumulation” of snow or ice. Put another way, property owners are not automatically liable for every injury caused by the accumulation of snow or ice. If a person’s injury is caused by snow or ice that naturally accumulated in an area because of the weather, the property may avoid liability. However, if the snow or ice accumulates unnaturally, the property owner may be liable for injuries caused by the unnatural accumulation. For example, a property owner may be liable for injuries caused by:
- Snow that was moved by snow shovels, snow plows, or snow blowers
- Melted snow that causes icy patches in places that ice would not naturally accumulate
- Ice created by water from roof edges, downspouts, or drainage systems
- Accumulation of ice in potholes or other parking lot defects
There is a fair amount of confusion and controversy about the duty of property owners to prevent injuries caused by snow and ice removal. Classifying snow and ice as either unnatural or natural accumulation and determining whether or not an injury was the result of the property owner’s negligence is challenging. This is one reason that it is crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with Illinois laws regarding snow and ice removal and property owner liability for snow and ice injuries....