All eyes have been on the southern states these last few days, as an artic storm has led to power outages, burst pipes, and deadly temperatures. But here in Chicago, we are also experiencing some of the worst weather on record – and it’s not going to stop any time soon.
NBC 5 Chicago is reporting that another snowstorm may hit us this weekend, adding as much as 3.6” to the 46” of snow we’ve had so far – 10” more than we get in an average season, with a few more weeks left to go. “In fact, the last three weeks in Chicago have been the snowiest three-week stretch the city has seen since January 1979, which marked one of the most notable blizzards in city history,” NBC 5 reports.
Vicious snowstorms may be more common here in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean our residents aren’t free from risks. Our very experiences may lead us to become over-confident in bad weather, which can make things more dangerous – and more deadly – at home and on the roads.
Snow, ice, and rain create hazardous driving conditions
Just last week, a car plunged off the Stevenson Expressway and fell 70 feet; investigators think the car hit a snowbank and the driver lost control. In April 2020, there was a 60-car pileup because of icy conditions on the Kennedy Expressway.
Aside from the snow, ice, and rain which make roads slick, we also have to contend with high winds, which are specially dangerous for trucks, and aging and heavily populated public transportation systems which can make traveling by train or bus dangerous.
One way to reduce the risk of serious crashes and collisions is to make sure your own vehicle is winter-ready. If you haven’t already, schedule a tune up and make sure your emergency kit is always ready. If you absolutely must drive, make sure your seat belt is on and your cellphone is off, and use your hazard lights when traveling more slowly. Bad weather erodes the roadways, too, which can lead to dangerous potholes. Make sure you keep an eye out to avoid these road hazards as much as possible.
Slips, trips, and falls are more common in bad weather
Natural accumulations of snow and ice are a leading case of falls. Unfortunately, there isn’t always anything you can do if you fall because of the snow. Under the Illinois Natural Accumulation Rule & the Snow and Ice Renewal Act of 2005, it can be difficult to hold a property owner liable if he or she hasn’t touched the snow or ice.
There may be times, however, when a slip and fall is caused not just by the ice, but also by the negligence of a property owner. If, for example, a business is open to the public and inviting people in, then the owner could be liable if you get hurt because he or she didn’t clear out the snow, wipe up muddy or wet floors, or generally did not take steps to ensure the property was safe. These are tricky cases, so it’s important to speak with a Chicago slip and fall lawyer if you get hurt.
Coronavirus has added another layer of worry
On top of all the existing winter hazards is another: potential exposure to COVID-19. ERs often see spikes in winter related to injuries and illnesses. Close proximity to other people, who may or may not be experiencing symptoms of the virus, adds an extra layer of concern.
Staying safe in Chicago in the winter
A few years ago, we published a list of steps you could take to make sure you were safe in the winter. Most of them are common sense – avoid driving when you can, double check your pipes, etc. – but we would like to add a few more things to that list:
- Be very, very careful with space heaters; they are a leading cause of house fires.
- Pests will seek out the warmth of buildings, and you may be tempted to put down some chemicals. Just remember that pets are also attracted to those chemicals, and accidental poisoning is a leading cause of death for babies and small children.
- Make sure to double check all kitchen appliances before using them, especially if they require hot oil or create steam. Burns can be deadly.
Like you, all of us at Gainsberg law are dreaming of warmer days ahead. Until they come, please – stay safe, stay warm, and remember that you can call us for help if you are injured during these winter weeks. To speak to one of our Chicago personal injury attorneys, please call 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form.