As soon as we start to feel the chill in the air, we know what’s coming next — ice and snow. Whether you dread the arrival of winter or celebrate it, one thing is for certain: when winter comes, so does the potential for serious or deadly injury. Each year, more than 116,000 Americans are injured on icy or snowy pavement. When the weather starts to get icy, it’s important to know how to keep yourself safe and what to do if you experience a slip and fall due to the negligence of another.
Read on and follow our advice for preventing a slip and fall.
How to Avoid Slips & Falls in Winter
Looking to stay safe this season? Follow these tips to avoid slipping on ice or snow:
- Tread lightly. Walk with purpose when walking over ice. Move slowly and use all available supports around you, provided the supports are sturdy. Before you take off across an area, tap it with your foot to see if ice has formed yet. Black ice can be nearly impossible to spot with your eyes, so you’ll have to rely on your other senses.
- Lace-up your boots. If you’ll be walking outside in the snow or ice a lot, get a nice pair of slip-resistant shoes. Boots are usually a favored choice for winter since they will keep your feet warm while protecting you from falling. Shoes with slick bottoms or high heels can be a major hazard when traveling across the ice, so avoid them at all costs.
- Keep your hands free. Your first instinct when falling is to put your hands out to catch yourself. It’s a built-in safety measure for your body that keeps you from landing directly on your face. For this reason, it’s best to keep your hands free when traveling on ice or snow. Don’t keep your hands in your pockets or carry items when walking on a slippery surface, as this can alter your balance and prevent you from catching yourself with your hands.
- Stay alert. When it gets slippery outside, your only focus should be on getting from point A to point B. Don’t text while walking or talk on the phone, as this could distract you from potential danger in front of you. Scan areas in front of you for ice and do your best to avoid areas that you know could be dangerous.
What Happens if I Do Slip and Fall?
If you slip and fall due to a slippery surface on someone else’s property, the case in question becomes about negligence. You must be able to prove that there was some level of negligence, no matter how small, for your case to be successful.
The judicial system uses four criteria to determine negligence:
- Duty of care: What was the duty of the responsible party in this situation?
- Breach: How did the responsible party violate this duty?
- Cause: Can it be proven that the actions of the responsible party caused the accident?
- Harm: Did injuries result from the accident?
Let’s give an example of a slip and fall case where there is a clear case of negligence. You are going to pick up your clothes from a local laundromat. There was a bout of icy rain two days ago, but, for the most part, everything has been cleared. As you are walking inside, you hit a huge uncleared patch of ice in the parking lot, causing you to fall and land on your arm. You visit the doctor immediately, and she shows that you have suffered a severe fracture that will require surgery to repair.
After discussing the situation with a lawyer, he gets the testimony of some of the employees at the laundromat. They all say that the owner refused to remove the ice from the parking lot, saying “it’s not my problem,” and “it’s just going to melt anyway.” Because of this, you are able to take your case to court and quite possibly receive a settlement worth more than the insurance company was willing to give you.
While your case may not look exactly like this, the essentials remain the same: if you have been injured due to the fault of another, you deserve compensation and support so that you can recover in peace.
If you’ve been victim to a slip and fall, contact Tolbert Beadle.
We can provide the legal support you need to get back on your feet after suffering from this life-altering event.