Chicago winters accumulate a lot of snow and ice on sidewalks, driveways, and parking areas. Just one slip can cause broken bones, spinal damage, nerve damage, bruises, and other injuries which can cause a great deal of physical pain and often require medical treatment. In the worst cases, someone can hit their head, resulting in a fatality or permanent brain damage, due to traumatic brain injury.
Liability for natural accumulation of snow and ice
Should a visitor on an individual’s property sustain an injury, Illinois does generally protect the visitor’s rights to bring a claim against the property owner. However, snow and ice removal are treated somewhat differently in the state.
In 2005, Illinois enacted the Illinois Natural Accumulation Rule & the Snow and Ice Renewal Act of 2005. This law holds that property owners and anyone required to manage property generally cannot be held liable if you slip and fall, if the snow and ice was a natural accumulation of the weather. In short, if it snows and your neighbor does nothing (does not shovel, salt, or clear the snow and ice), then it can be difficult to bring a claim against them.
Liability for unnatural accumulations
Injured plaintiffs need to show that the accumulation of snow or ice was an unnatural accumulation. Examples of unnatural accumulations, which are due to failure to fix a known property defect, include:
- A rainspout that is cracked.
- A sidewalk or parking lot that was improperly designed, causing ice or snow to accumulate much more in one part of the sidewalk or parking lot than another.
- An improperly placed or poorly functioning (blocked) drain that is causing melting water to get onto the sidewalk, stairs, or other parts of the property – where it can freeze and cause slippery conditions.
- Poorly maintained gutters.
- The failure of an apartment or some other commercial owner to call the maintenance crew out during bad weather, if a contract with the crew is pre-existing.
- Violations of building codes.
In some cases, the issue will be how long the ice and snow was allowed to remain before corrective measures were taken. Improper tracking of snow and ice may qualify as an unnatural accumulation.
At Gainsberg Law, P.C., our Chicago personal injury attorneys understand how dangerous truck accidents can be. We also understand the complexities of truck accident cases such as where lawsuits can be brought, which local and federal laws apply, and assigning responsibility. For clear guidance and tough representation, please phone us at 312.313.1621 or complete our contact form. We take cases on a contingency fee basis.