What To Know When Ice And Snow Cause A Slip And Fall In Washington, D.C.

By Peter DePaolis

Winter brings ice and snow to the Washington, D.C. area, and with it, the risk of slip and fall accidents. Property owners are required to keep their premises reasonably safe, which means taking certain steps to prevent slip and fall accidents due to snow and ice. But victims have to do more than show they slipped and fell if they want to hold the property owner accountable.

Slip and Fall Accident in Washington, D.C.

The area of law that deals with slip and fall accidents due to ice and snow is known as premises liability. Put simply, property owners are required to keep their premises reasonably safe for customers, guests, and others. That means if a slip and fall accident could and should have been prevented, the property owner may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

As with all personal injury cases, it’s up to the plaintiff victim to prove the required elements of negligence with premises liability cases. With respect to slip and fall accidents caused by snow and ice, that means showing the following to be true:

The property owner owed the victim a duty of care. In the context of a slip and fall, that means showing the owner had a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably free of ice and snow. This element is typically not disputed, although the relationship of the victim to the defendant property owner can sometimes be an issue. For example, while visitors and invited guests are owed this legal duty of care, trespassing adults generally are not. If you break into a property and get hurt, chances are you won’t be compensated.

Because of some act or omission (negligence), the owner violated that duty of care. This means the property owner failed to take reasonable steps to keep the premises free of hazardous ice and snow. The keyword here is “reasonable.” Owners are not required to shovel snow and remove ice during a blizzard, for example. But property owners also cannot turn a blind eye to dangerous conditions on their property and must take care of ice and snow in a timely manner. This element of liability is often hotly debated between plaintiffs and defendants.

The negligent act or omission caused injury to the plaintiff. Here, the plaintiff has to explain how exactly he or she was hurt because of the ice or snow. Often this involves explaining how the victim came to be on the property in the first place, where exactly he or she was at the time of the slip and fall, and other relevant details.

As a result of the above, the plaintiff victim suffered damages. Damages are the losses that the victim suffered due to the slip and fall accident. They commonly include medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Damages are another typically contested element of premises liability cases.

Examples of Slip and Fall Accidents Caused by Ice and Snow

These are a few examples of places where ice and snow can accumulate and cause an accident:

  • Sidewalks and other walkways
  • Stairs
  • Parking lots
  • Patios
  • Commercial and residential properties
  • Parks and playgrounds

As you can see, the liable parties could be businesses, homeowners, or government entities, depending on where exactly the accident took place. But bear in mind there are different rules for holding the government liable for slip and fall accidents that happen on public property. A knowledgeable Washington, D.C. slip and fall accident lawyer can help.

If you were hurt because of a slip and fall-related to ice or snow, turn to Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP. We can schedule your confidential consultation today.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.