Posted by Mary Ann Gorman | Posted in Personal Injury News
Accumulations of ice and snow on public roads, sidewalks and private property can create dangerous conditions and serious slip and fall injuries.
Property owners can sometimes be held liable for slip and fall injuries; however, standards of liability for these injuries are different depending on whether the property is owned by a state government, local government or private landowner.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Private Property
Owners of private property must not willingly or wantonly engage in misconduct that could injure a trespasser. Beyond that standard, private landowners generally have no duty of care to trespassers.
Private property owners have a higher duty of care to social guests, must correct problems or defects if they are aware of them and must warn guests of known dangers that could cause injuries.
Slip and Fall Accidents on a Private Property Used as a Business
When a private property is used as a business, the property owner must keep the property safe by finding and repairing defects that could cause harm or injuries to visitors.
The business property owner is generally liable for injuries to visitors even if the property owner was unaware of the danger if reasonable care would have made the property owner aware of the defect or dangerous condition.
These standards mean that if snow and ice accumulates on property and a visitor sustains a slip and fall injury, private property owners could be found responsible for the injury.
Slip and Fall Accidents on Government Property
If a person sustains a slip and fall injury due to snow or ice on government owned property, the issue of liability is more complex.
Government entities are often protected by sovereign immunity, which prevents an injured person from suing for damages. However, there are limited exceptions to this immunity.
If an injury occurs on a government-controlled roadway, property or sidewalk due to a dangerous condition or defect of the property, the government’s immunity may be defeated.
However, dangerous conditions such as an accumulation of snow or ice are not considered a condition or defect of the property; therefore, the government’s immunity generally remains intact.
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