Ice Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys in Wilkes-Barre

Date: January 11, 2018
Posted In: DLP Law

Ice Slip and Fall Accident Attorneys in Wilkes-Barre

In most years, Northeastern Pennsylvania is subjected to harsh wintry weather. While the exact nature of these storms will differ from year-to-year, it is not uncommon to have to contend with winter conditions including snowstorms, ice storms, freezing rain, sleet, and as of recent, below freezing temperatures.

When this occurs, snow and ice may pile up on sidewalks, in parking lots, on steps, and on other surfaces. Under a layer of frozen precipitation or a sheet of ice, these surfaces become extremely hazardous and slippery. Even when an individual is aware of snow or ice on a surface, it can be difficult to maintain one’s balance. When a layer of ice is concealed, also sometimes called black ice, the risk of a slip and fall increases significantly.

If you have slipped and injured yourself due to ice and snow accumulation on someone else’s property, the property owner may have held a legal duty to protect you from a defective and dangerous condition. That is, property owners and business owners are sometimes required by local ordinances to clear sidewalks and parking lots of snow and ice within 24 hours of a winter weather storm. In other circumstances, state negligence law may find that the business owner or other party had a duty to protect you from a hazard. However, not all slip and fall accidents create liability for the property owner.

When Are Property Owners Liable for Ice and Snow Slip and Falls?

The general contours of Pennsylvania law do not require a property or landowner to remove and keep areas free from snow and ice at all times. See Rinaldi v. Levine, 176 A.2d 623 (Pa. 1962). Due to the potentially frequent and sustained winter storms, such a requirement would be impossible and unworkable. Instead, the courts and Pennsylvania law instead require a property owner or tenant to “act within a reasonable time after notice to remove it when it is in a dangerous condition.” Harmotta v. Bender, 601 A.2d 837, 841 (Pa.Super. 1992).

However, the mere fact that snow and ice are present, does not automatically give rise to liability. Such an approach would impose something more similar to a strict liability standard than the negligence approach under which Pennsylvania slip and fall work is governed. Instead, Pennsylvania’s hills and ridges doctrine sets forth the scenarios in which liability for an accident and injury will attach to the owner.

Under the hills and ridges doctrine, liability for a slip and fall injury exists when there are natural accumulations of snow or ice in the form of hills and ridges – there is no liability solely for generally slippery conditions. These natural accumulations of snow must be allowed to remain for an unreasonable amount of time. As set forth in Gilligan v. Villanova University, 584 A.2d 1005 (Pa. Super. 1991) the following three conditions must be satisfied for an injured slip and fall injury victim to successfully recover compensation:

  • An accumulation of snow and ice in hills, ridges, and other elevated features that present an unreasonable risk of injury or danger.
  • The property owner received actual notice of the condition or he or she should have been aware it existed.
  • The unreasonably dangerous accumulation of snow and ice is the reason for the individual’s slip and fall injury.

The above sets forth the general elements necessary to bring a successful slip and fall lawsuit against a landowner due to naturally accumulating snowy or icy conditions.

Besides Parking Lots, What Are Other Common Danger Areas for Winter Hazards?

One area where slip and fall injuries are all too common are parking lots for retail stores and other businesses. Some businesses, unfortunately, fail to clear snow and ice from their parking facilities. They may believe that the snow being packed down by customer vehicles will control the risk. In reality, the compressed snow and ice can become increasingly slippery. A customer typically expects the parking lot to be clear from obvious dangers and he or she may slip and fall due to the unexpected hazard.

Ice and Snow Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers in Scranton

If you or someone you love was injured after slipping on ice or snow, or by other dangerous winter weather conditions, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the negligent property owner.  The experienced Pennsylvania slip and fall accident attorneys of Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP have over 40 years of combined experience investigating and litigating claims of premises liability, slip and fall accidents, catastrophic injuries, and wrongful death. Pennsylvania premises liability law regarding slip and fall accidents on ice and snow can be extremely complicated, so you need someone with years of experience to represent you if you have been catastrophically injured. Contact us for a no-obligation, confidential consultation, and we will evaluate your case to determine if you have a claim.

Unable to drive to one of our (4) offices in Kingston, Moosic, Honesdale or Hazleton? We will meet you at your home or hospital room.

Injury? Call DLP! (570) C-A-L-L-D-L-P.

Brian Price
Brian has been practicing law in Northeastern Pennsylvania for the past 25 years. In 2000 he became partner in Dougherty Leventhal & Price, L.L.P. He is Board Certified in Trial Advocacy, named a Super Lawyer and sits on the Board of Governors in Philadelphia.