The snow is finally starting to melt here in Minnesota, and that means the sidewalks and roads are going to be wet. But when the sun sets and temperatures drop back below freezing, all this melted water can form back into ice, which is a lot more treacherous for our daily commute. So what happens if you’re a property owner and ice keeps accumulating on your sidewalk, or what if you end up slipping on someone else’s sidewalk and fracturing your hip? We explore liability laws and compensation options for icy sidewalk injuries in today’s blog.
Icy Sidewalk Injuries
The March melt is a common time when injuries from icy sidewalks occur. During the winter months, people are often more cognizant of the slippery terrain, but once the weather starts to get a little nicer, they aren’t so careful about the patches of icy that may still be thawing on their walkway. But as a homeowner, what is your responsibility for clearing this ice, and as a pedestrian, what can you do if you suffer a slip and fall injury on someone else’s sidewalk?
Let’s start with your responsibility as a homeowner. Under Minnesota law, you are expected to make public walkways on your property safe within a timely fashion. There is no set time, but you need to be able to show that reasonable matters were taken to make the property as safe as possible. This doesn’t mean that you need to go out in a blizzard to keep snow and ice off the sidewalk, but you also can’t leave it sit for days without opening yourself up to a potential lawsuit.
Also, not knowing of an issue is not an excuse to get out of a lawsuit. For example, if you’re on a vacation and we get icy rain back in Minnesota, you’ll want to have a plan in place for someone to treat your sidewalk, because it’s still your responsibility. This time of year is also a common time for sump pumps to run as the snow melts, and if your discharge pipe is above ground, you want to ensure it’s not funneling water to sidewalks where it can re-freeze and cause a dangerous situation for pedestrians. These laws are open to interpretation, but homeowners are basically expected to make their sidewalks accessible within a reasonable amount of time. Doing so may not absolve you of a lawsuit, but it can help to limit your fault and liability.
On the flip side, let’s say you are walking your dog on the sidewalk when you hit an icy spot and fall, suffering an injury. Take a moment to collect yourself and assess your injuries. If you need immediate care, call for help or an ambulance. If you don’t need immediate care, survey the scene. If anyone witnessed the slip, get their contact information so you can have them provide a statement if necessary. It’s also helpful to take photos of the injury, the location of the fall, and anything that contributed to your injury. Pictures of ice or snow can be helpful in helping to prove your claim.
From there, you’ll want to get medical attention and a diagnosis of your injuries. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you should contact an injury lawyer like Dean Margolis and his team at Margolis Law Firm. We’ll be able to help guide you through the injury claims process, and we can help to maximize your claim. Minnesota is a comparative fault state, which means the court assigns a fault rating to both the injured party and the property owner. We can help get you the smallest fault rating which can increase your potential injury award. From there, we’ll be with you every step of the way until you’ve been paid for your claim.
So if you’re a property owner, make sure you are clearing the remaining snow and ice from your property, and if you’re out walking or running, keep an eye out for slippery spots. And if you need help with your slip and fall claim, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Margolis Law Firm.