With winter well underway across the United States, many localities have already experienced dangerous winter weather. Winter weather inevitably creates hazards that commuters and pedestrians must deal with as they go about their daily routines.
While members of the public are expected to exercise some level of caution when it comes to traveling in winter weather, facilities owners and landowners are responsible for taking their part to prevent slip and fall injuries caused by ice and snow.
Those who have recently experienced a slip and fall injury because of a weather hazard will need to look into winter weather liabilities of landowners or snow removal companies to determine if they are eligible for compensation from a negligent party.
The rule of "natural accumulation"
The natural accumulation rule dictates property management standards during periods of winter weather in many states. In states where the natural accumulation rule is in effect, it can be difficult to hold a property owner liable for injuries caused by winter weather hazards that are typical to a given region at a given time of year.
This rule assumes that a certain level of snow/ice accumulation should be expected in certain regions, and that members of the public need to respond accordingly to keep themselves safe.
While the natural accumulation rule protects property owners from liability in cases where snow/ice accumulation is typical of a given region, it does not free them of the responsibility of ensuring the safety of their premises in cases of extreme winter weather. In cases of exceptional winter weather hazards, property owners are expected to make efforts to keep their properties safe.
Because standards regarding winter weather hazard liabilities can vary by state, determining whether a property owner is liable for an injury caused by adverse winter conditions is not always easy. However, it is generally assumed that any time a property owner knew of a significant and abnormally severe hazard on his or her premises and did nothing to remedy the situation, he or she can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
The following circumstances of a hazardous situation can have a bearing on any court decisions regarding liability:
- Probability of injury
- Potential severity of injuries caused by a given situation
- Exertion required to remove the hazard(s) in question
- Foot traffic in area in question
Liability of a snow removal company
Often, property owners hire outside snow removal companies to attend to any hazards caused by severe winter weather. An injured individual could be compensated by a snow removal company if it is determined that the company did not fulfill its responsibilities in ridding the premises of a significant hazard.
Visit a site like http://www.putnamlieb.com to learn more about slip and fall cases and what you can do in your specific situation.