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When can a business be held accountable for a slip in the winter?

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Premises Liability

Snow and ice are part of every Connecticut winter (and sometimes they’re with us from fall through spring). If you’re out and about, it’s only normal to expect that you’ll encounter slippery sidewalks, walkways and steps.

A slip-and-fall accident on a concrete or other hard surface, even one with several inches of snow on it, can cause devastating injuries, including fractures and brain injuries. So when is the dangerous condition on or surrounding a property the responsibility of the owner?

Local ordinances are specific about property owners’ responsibilities

Typically, property owners aren’t expected to remove ice and snow from walkways and other areas in the middle of a storm or the minute the snow stops falling. City ordinances across the state vary somewhat. Here in North Haven, the local ordinance states that those responsible for the property must remove “snow, sleet, ice and other obstructions” from sidewalks, driveways, curbs and other areas surrounding the property “within 24 hours after the end of snowfall or precipitation.”

Further, the ordinance states that if the ice is frozen so hard that it can’t be removed without damaging the surface, it needs to be “strewn with sand, ashes, sawdust or other suitable material so as to be no longer dangerous to life and limb.”

What other factors may determine liability?

The timing of the injury will likely be a significant factor in whether a property owner can be held liable for having a dangerous condition. Other factors may be considered, like whether the condition, such as ice, was visible.

If you or a witness had the presence of mind to take out a phone and document the scene, that can be helpful to your case. You can bet that the area was shoveled or otherwise dealt with after your fall, so it’s good to have evidence, with the date and time on it, of the scene.

While businesses and other property owners typically have insurance for injuries suffered on the property, it’s crucial not to accept a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries. Having experienced legal guidance can help you assert your rights.