Snow and Ice Injury Cases in Chicago, IL are More Complicated Than You Think

Snow and Ice Injury Cases in Chicago, IL are More Complicated Than You Think

Winter is in full swing around Chicago, which means snow and ice accumulation can cause serious hazards for pedestrians trying to navigate through the city’s sidewalks, crosswalks, and entryways. Slip and fall injuries are common this time of year, whether coming and going from the office, stores, restaurants, a residence, parking garage, or any other structure. The prevailing assumption is that premises liability rules apply, and that injured victims can recover compensation from a business or building owner that fails to properly take care of snow and ice removal. However, there are certain exceptions, both due to legal concepts and statutory law, which make these cases more complicated than a typical slip and fall situation. You should talk to a knowledgeable premises liability attorney in Chicago about your specific circumstances, but reviewing some general information may also be useful.

Snow and Ice Removal Act

Illinois has enacted a law regarding the responsibilities of business owners and rights of individuals as they relate to snow and ice removal surrounding residential structures. Under the Snow and Ice Removal Act, liability is limited in accordance with public policy, which encourages owners to clear off walkways without the fear of being sued because they did not do so properly. Therefore, residential owners are not responsible for their efforts or omissions involved with removing snow and ice, unless there are acts involving willful or wanton misconduct.

The “Natural Accumulation” Rule

Illinois also follows a legal concept that does not impose a duty upon a business or building owner where the snow and ice accumulation upon a walkway is natural. Therefore, there may be liability only where the accumulation is abnormal. There is no distinction of what constitutes natural or unnatural, so there is no bright line test in these cases.

Liability for Stores, Restaurants, and Similar Businesses

The Snow and Ice Removal Act and Natural Accumulation Rule will limit liability in most situations, but there are other theories that may allow a victim to recover compensation for slip and fall injuries. Businesses still owe a duty of care to members of the public that they welcome into their establishments. There may be a breach of this duty, and possibly liability, where:

  • The business attempted to clear snow and ice by moving it to another walkway, where a victim slipped and was hurt;
  • Other victims fell and were injured in a certain slippery area, and the owner did nothing despite repeated reports;
  • There was equipment or other debris near the area covered in snow and ice;
  • A victim falls in an area where the owner partially removed snow, revealed a more hazardous icy surface below; or,
  • Other scenarios indicating negligence on behalf of a business or building owner.

Consult with a Premises Liability Lawyer About Snow and Ice Injuries in Chicago

For more information on slip and fall cases due to accumulation of snow and ice in Chicago, IL, please contact Michael T. Friedman & Associates to schedule a consultation. We can tell you more about your options and answer questions about your case.

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