Slip and Fall Injuries: What to Know Heading Into Winter
It’s hard to believe that we are quickly headed towards the winter months. As thoughts of frost covered mornings, ice covered windshields and, of course, snow shoveling, enter our minds, so does the thought of potentially hazardous walking conditions. Unfortunately, hundreds of people in the Philadelphia area are injured due to ice and snow in parking lots and on sidewalks. Determining who is at fault isn’t always clear in the state of Pennsylvania.
We’ve decided to put together a quick reference guide on what do to protect yourself should you ever slip and fall. We’ve also collected some tips and tricks for property owners to take to help protect themselves from legal action.
A Slip and Fall Injury Can be Serious
An injury from a slip and fall on an icy or snowy sidewalk or parking lot can be serious and can include factures, bruises as well as brain and spine injuries. Folks more advanced in age are all the more susceptible to breaks. Additionally, internal/brain injuries are not always apparent immediately after a fall. Internal trauma, especially to the brain, can cause serious damage hours and even days after an injury.
Injuries caused by a slip and fall can be a great burden. Medical bills, lost wages and emotional distress all add to the financial and physical toll.
If You’ve Been in a Slip and Fall
- Keep a cool head – it’s easy to be embarrassed or angry if you’ve fallen. Do your best to remain calm and focus on the steps to follow.
- Determine if you’ve been seriously injured, especially if you’ve hit your head. Even if you are not in serious pain, you should consider seeking medical attention quickly.
- Collect witnesses and speak with them. Try and collect their names and numbers.
- Take pictures of surface conditions and even your shoes and injuries, if any are apparent.
- Ice and snow melt, so the conditions causing a fall can disappear within hours.
- Call an attorney and discuss the incident. They can determine if a claim can be made against a property owner.
What Does the Law Say for Pennsylvania?
Winter conditions are a regular occurrence and for this reason, the law is complicated and not always favorable to victims since it would be a heavy burden to keep sideways and parking lots completely clear at all times. A generally slippery condition isn’t enough to support a claim and more information needs to be provided to determine the exact circumstances.
Conditions such a negligence, snow and ice accumulation, etc. can all play a factor in whether or not a suit can be filed. It’s always best to contact an attorney and get a consultation based on the circumstances and evidence collected.
How to Protect Yourself This Winter
Ultimately, no one should wish to get injured. Simply stated, it does happen and there are several steps that you can take to protect your health and well being. Negligence on your part may work against you in a claim made against a property owner.
Some steps include:
- Walk slowly, carefully and with shorter steps (penguin walk.)
- Use railings
- Don’t walk with your hands in your pockets, which will impact your ability to reach out and soften the impact of your fall.
- Wear appropriate footwear (heels, dress shoes or any shoe with low tread will increase your risk of falling
- If you’re driving, pay attention to where you park your car to ensure proper footing when you exit your vehicle.
- Stay home – in particularly dangerous conditions, seriously consider if it’s ‘worth it.’
What Property Owners can Do
Property owners, particularly business owners and residences where there are public sidewalks need to do their part in clearing walkways, and folks can be cited for not following rules in place. Some steps that can be taken to reduce risk include:
- Don’t leave patches of snow and ice – completely clear the walkway, including stairs.
- Remove piles to ensure that melted snow doesn’t pool and refreeze.
- Being physically unable is not an excuse. Ensure that you have reliable contractors in place before the winter months to care for your property.
- Laying down sand, salt before and after snowfall or icy conditions.
- Put out visual cues, such as signs, cones, etc.
- Maintain your property.
- Care for failing gutters, cracked or uneven sidewalks and areas where water pools.
Murray L. Greenfield & Associates have decades of experience representing those who have been injured in a slip and fall. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we don’t get paid unless a case is won in your favor. Call our office today if you you’ve been injured in a slip and fall. A member of our team will be happy to assist you.