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Can I Sue a Property Owner for Falls on Ice?

Written by James J. Kirshbaum. Posted in .

In Minnesota, slip and fall accidents often involves negligence, but how do the winter season and the accumulation of snow and ice affect premises liability? Slip and falls often happen in parking lots and walkways outside businesses, and the risk of slipping certainly increases in the winter. Depending on the situation, the property owner or manager can be held liable for your serious injuries.

Did you suffer a slip and fall injury while out shopping? Do you suspect you have a claim and wonder who can be held liable for your injuries? Contact the experienced attorneys at Kirshbaum Injury Law at 952-545-2700.

What to Do When You Slip and Fall on Ice

If you slip and fall on ice on someone else’s property, the first thing to do is seek medical attention. After a doctor assesses your injuries, you should file an incident report with the property owner. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, always contact an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if you do not think your injury is serious, always seek medical attention when you slip and fall. Many injuries can take weeks or even months before they show symptoms, and seeking immediate medical treatment can help prevent an injury from worsening. When the time comes to pursue a personal injury case, early medical attention demonstrates you took things seriously from the start.

File an Incident Report

Accident reports are essential to your personal injury claim. Be sure that the property manager or owner takes detailed notes about the accident, how it happened, what happened, and when and where it occurred. Your accident report will be important while your personal injury attorney handles your case. If you can, take photos of the scene yourself and get contact information from witnesses willing to testify to the incident.

Contact an Attorney

The insurance company will go to great lengths to avoid paying out huge claims. Always remember that they are for-profit companies, and they do not make money by paying out money. Even if they seem compassionate at first, they are not your friend, and their only goal is to get you to sign away your right to greater compensation. When you contact a law firm with experienced slip and fall attorneys, they can help you stand up to the adjusters and fight for the compensation you deserve.

You have legal rights if you have suffered serious injuries from slip and fall accidents on someone else’s property. You deserve compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages. Contact a personal injury attorney at Kirshbaum Injury Law for legal advice and a free consultation today. Call 952-545-2700 or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our attorneys.

older man tripping down stairs covered in snow

Injuries From Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

Some of the most common injuries from a slip and fall on an accumulation of ice, black ice, or excessive accumulation of snow include bruises, cuts, sprains, and the like. More serious injuries include back and neck injuries, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries from the victim hitting their head. These types of injuries from icy conditions and winter weather conditions may make you eligible for slip and fall cases to recover damages.

Back Injuries

When you fall on concrete after a slip in icy conditions, you may twist awkwardly or even suffer a severe blunt force impact that can damage your spine. Additionally, you may suffer serious muscle, tendon, or ligament injuries that can take months or even years to heal. Back injuries are extremely serious. They can result in loss of motion, chronic pain, and even paralysis and death.

Broken Bones

Broken bones can take anywhere from six weeks to months to heal. In compound fractures, the broken bone coincides with tears in your ligaments, muscles, and tendons. These can take months or even years to heal, and many people who suffer compound fractures are never the same again. If you have suffered a broken bone, you could be eligible for significant compensation for your injury.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries can result in a wide range of what are colloquially called invisible injuries. Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, can cause emotional trauma, mood swings, personality changes, memory issues, and the like. TBIs can also cause many physical conditions like paralysis, loss of range of motion, weakness, chronic pain, and many other health conditions.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Cases in Minnesota?

The statute of limitations is the time frame you have to file a lawsuit. Every state has its own statute of limitations, which can vary based on the circumstances of the lawsuit. Minnesota has a very long time frame to file slip and fall cases or other types of personal injury cases. Here, you have six years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. In a wrongful death case, where you lose a loved one to such an injury, you can file your lawsuit up to six years from the date of death.

However, just because you have six years does not mean you should wait for six years. Often, the sooner you file your injury case, the better off you are. Waiting to file also means that evidence is aging. You could lose access to evidence like security footage that will back up your story if you wait too long.

What is Reasonable Care for Minnesota Premises Liability Cases?

Property owners and property managers have a duty of care toward visitors on their property. At the same time, visitors to the property have a reasonable expectation of safety. Reasonable care means they must show the same degree of concern for safety that any rational and reasonable person would show under similar circumstances. This is also sometimes referred to as the reasonable person standard.

Suppose an area experiences severe winter weather that leaves a greater-than-natural accumulation of snow or ice. Property owners must attempt to address those risks under this reasonable expectation and duty of care. They should, within 24 hours of the winter ice or snowstorm, make snow removal efforts and take measures to mitigate the ice. These efforts may include shoveling walkways, putting snow melt or rock salt down on parking lots or driveways, and other efforts to remove potentially dangerous conditions.

What is Considered a Natural Accumulation of Snow in Minnesota?

Parked cars covered in snow during the winter

A natural accumulation of snow is an amount that might move liability off a property owner. The exact amount of snow considered natural is subjective and can vary based on the conditions after a given weather event. As snow and ice accumulate during a weather event, the property owner may need more time to remove it properly. If this is the case, the property owner may cite natural accumulation as a defense.

If the property manager or owner cites natural accumulation, this does not mean you cannot get compensated for your injury. It just makes it more complex for your personal injury lawyer to build a case. The average amount of annual snowfall varies widely in Minnesota. In the southwest, it sits at around 36 inches. In the snow belt along Lake Superior, it can be as high as 70 inches or more. In the end, natural accumulation refers more to the time frame and when the snow falls than the specific amount of snow.

In the end, the property owner must be given a reasonable amount of time for snow and ice removal. If they do not have enough time to do so, they may cite this as a defense against your personal injury claim.

What Factors Will a Court Evaluate During a Minnesota Premises Liability Case?

A court will consider several factors during a slip and fall case in Minnesota. Premises liability cases are types of personal injury cases. The core of any personal injury case, be it a slip and fall, a car accident, or any other injury where you seek damages, is negligence. Negligence is a legal term that requires several provable factors.

The first of these is that the defendant (property owners, property managers, or even homeowners) had a duty of care to provide a reasonable expectation of safety for visitors. The second is that the defendant violated this duty of care, and this violation led directly or proximately to the accident. Finally, it must be provable that your injuries were the result of the accident.

In a slip and fall case, the courts will first consider whether or not the property owner should have known the danger. Next, they will review whether the property owner had enough time to address the danger. Third, the judge will consider whether the defendant took action to prevent or address the risk. They will also address whether the actions taken were sufficient and whether the defendant had the means to take reasonable means to address the risk.

As mentioned above, if you slip and fall in a parking lot while a snowstorm is in progress, the courts may rule that the defendant did not have the time or means to reasonably address the danger because the weather event was still happening. If, on the other hand, the storm occurred two days ago and the parking lot was still covered with snow and ice, despite the property owner having the means to clear it, you may have a strong case for damages.

How Much is My Slip and Fall Case Worth?

Man standing on icy stairs during the winter

It is impossible to say what your case may be worth without learning its details. These cases are unique, and each takes its own path. You may, however, be eligible to receive similar types of damages to other personal injury cases. These include your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and others.

Damages in a personal injury case are broadly divided into two categories: special damages (also called or economic damages) and general damages (also called non-economic damages).

Special or Economic Damages

Special damages or economic damages cover those things that are easy to value. This includes all of your medical bills, including doctor’s office visits, medication, therapy, procedures, transportation, and any necessary home care costs. It also consists of your lost wages, including those you have already lost, wages you may have earned in the future, and possibly even loss of retirement benefits, depending on the severity of the injury. In the case of a wrongful death suit, these damages can also include reasonable funeral and burial costs.

General or Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages or general damages are more subjective. They are also referred to as pain and suffering. These include invisible injuries like the loss of consortium, loss of comfort and companionship, loss of ability to enjoy life, emotional trauma, PTSD, and other things that are trickier to value. They also form the core of negotiations in many cases, as the insurance company will value them differently than you and your attorney and will often try to downplay them.

Do You Have a Slip and Fall Case in Minnesota This Winter?

If you have suffered a serious injury from a fall in a parking lot, on stairs, on a walkway, or anywhere on someone else’s property, whether commercial or private, you may be eligible for significant compensation. Getting compensated, however, can be complicated, and it is important to have an experienced Minnesota personal injury lawyer in your corner who is knowledgeable about premises liability cases.

At Kirshbaum Injury Law, we bring decades of combined experience to the table and have represented many people like you from all over Minnesota. We deeply value our open and honest attorney-client relationship and strive to be a compassionate and tenacious ally to everyone who enters our doors. We focus on fair outcomes, not exceptions and disclaimers, and we have a track record of satisfied clients. Our law firm is also highly accessible, offering virtual consultations and legal advice to all our potential and current clients.

Was Your Minnesota Slip and Fall on Ice Unavoidable?

If you fell and were severely hurt on another person’s property in Minnesota, you do not have to go it alone. Let our legal team take on the fight with the insurance company to seek compensation so you can focus on the all-important task of getting well again. Get in touch with us today at 952-545-2700 or through our online form to schedule your free consultation.

James J. Kirshbaum

Written By James J. Kirshbaum

Jim is a very experienced trial lawyer having conducted jury trials in multiple states both on behalf of injured people and on behalf of defending insurance companies.

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