Winter Time Brings its Own Set of Slippery Perils

Many of us assume who should be held liable when a slip and fall happens at a restaurant or store: the business owner, or another similar liable party. But what happens if you take a bad spill on a thick slab of ice and fracture a hip while walking down the sidewalk? Slip and falls due to icy or snowy conditions are much more rare than in stores or restaurants due to the more temperate climate of North Carolina; however, they do happen and the injuries can be even more severe than indoor falls given the incredibly hard surfaces outside such as concrete and asphalt. Liability may fall on the person who owns the business adjacent to the sidewalk on which the pedestrian fell, or, similarly, it may fall on property owner whose home or building was adjacent to that sidewalk.

Knowledge of Dangerous Conditions

Depending on when the winter storm ended and if the pedestrian and/or adjacent property owner had knowledge of the dangerous conditions, liability may fall on the property owner. If the pedestrian had knowledge of the ice or snow, the adjacent landowner may not have a duty to remove it and therefore may not be held liable. For a lawsuit to be successful, negligence and prior knowledge must be proven on the business or property owner. There are two types of knowledge, legally speaking. An example of actual knowledge would be if the adjacent property owner saw that there was a large buildup of ice on “their” sidewalk. Constructive knowledge would be if the business or property owner knew that it snowed two feet, and therefore through constructive reasoning, would realize that there would be dangerous snowy/icy conditions on the sidewalk. In terms of liability, if the business or property owner had previous knowledge of the dangerous conditions of “their” sidewalk, they may be held liable since they have a duty to correct or warn others of the poor conditions. But when there is reasonable knowledge that a dangerous condition has existed for an extended period of time, yet the knowledge was constructive, it may be up to the jury to decide if the owner will be held liable or if it was the fault of the pedestrian alone.

Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow in Charlotte

There are 2.5 million falls resulting in emergency room department visits, according to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention. Many of these falls, including falls on snow, ice, or other dangerous conditions found on sidewalks, are quite severe. They can include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, fractured hips, torn ligaments, broken wrists, and severe contusions. A traumatic brain injury can take weeks, months or years to heal, and full healing may not be possible. The brain is the most fragile and most important part of the human body and unfortunately, there is not a lot to be done in order to expedite healing. The same is true for many soft tissue injuries. If you or a family member has suffered a traumatic brain injury, fractured hip, broken wrist or ankle, or any type of serious injury from slipping and falling on an unsafe walking surface, contact an experienced Charlotte, North Carolina, slip and fall attorney today.