Winter is in full swing in New England. That means the weather outside isn’t just frightful, it’s dangerous. If you slip and fall during this winter season, you need to know whether you can file a premises liability claim to be compensated for your injuries.
Ice, snow, and runoff caused by Connecticut’s winter storms can create dangerous conditions in your neighborhood, and at the businesses you visit. Black ice or slippery concrete can result in bruising, broken bones, spinal issues, or head injuries. Sometimes, a slip and fall can even be fatal.
Lawsuits to recover for personal injuries suffered in slip and fall accidents fall into a category called “premises liability.” If you are hurt because someone else negligently failed to keep their property safe, a premises liability lawsuit can help you collect damages for:
However, when a premises liability claim involves a slip and fall in the winter season, there are some special rules that may apply to the case.
One key part of every premises liability lawsuit is negligence. An injured person must prove that the person (or company) they are suing did something they should not have, or didn’t do something they had a duty to do. In winter slip and fall cases, this usually means the defendant failed to take reasonable steps to clear ice and snow and make their property safe for pedestrians and visitors.
If your slip and fall accident happened outdoors, the local snow removal ordinance could help. Many Connecticut communities, including Fairfield and New Haven, have town ordinances that require property owners to remove snow and ice sidewalks on their property within a certain amount of time (i.e. 24 hours after the storm). If your attorney can show that the owner of the property violated that ordinance, it proves they behaved negligently, moving you one step closer to winning your case.
Notice, though, that those local ordinances and premises liability law more generally apply after the storm has passed. Connecticut has special “ongoing storm” laws that protect property owners from lawsuits for injuries that happen while the storm is happening. Property owners must have had warning that a dangerous condition existed and a reasonable chance to respond before the law will label them negligent.
Sometimes, what is reasonable is simply putting up a sign. For example, if a storefront has stairs and an overhang, snow melting on the overhang could create a slippery situation on the stairs. A property owner isn’t automatically required to remove the overhang or constantly mop up the runoff, but they may be required to put up a sign warning about the hazard. This can apply inside the store as well, if snowy boots create wet floors inside the doorway.
One challenge many injured pedestrians face is knowing who is responsible for removing the ice and snow at an apartment building or retail store. Control over the property is more important than legal ownership. That can create issues deciding whether to sue:
It will be up to your slip and fall lawyers to fully investigate who owns and controls the property where the accident happens. You may even need to sue several defendants and then sort out who ultimately was supposed to be pushing the snow plow.
In most cases, you had to have a legal right to be where you were in order to file a premises liability lawsuit. Connecticut law doesn’t protect trespassers on a person’s property. But knowing whether you were a trespasser isn’t always as obvious as it seems. If you were in a business’s parking lot after the store closed, or accidentally crossed onto a house’s private property, you could find yourself without the right to sue. Your premises liability lawyer will need to investigate any trespassing concerns early, to see whether you are entitled to compensation.
Sometimes the full extent of a slip and fall injury isn’t obvious at first. The consequences of a concussion or spinal injury often develop over weeks or even months. Getting a diagnosis in these cases can take even longer.
That can create a problem collecting damages for slip and fall accidents. Under Connecticut law, most personal injury lawsuits including premises liability claims must be filed within two years of the accident. If your injuries developed over time, you may only have a few months to get a diagnosis, document what happened, and file your case.
That is why it is important to talk to a slip and fall lawyer right away after your injury. Even if you don’t have a diagnosis yet, Attorney Stephen Lebedevitch can help you start the process to develop your case. He will review all the details of when, where, and how you were injured, to make sure you are compensated for your loss. Contact The Lebedevitch Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation.