If you fell on a patch of ice in a parking lot and were injured, you may be wondering whether or not you have a personal injury case. Whether it’s the result of freezing rain contributing to slick steps or a snow-covered ice patch that remains in the aftermath of a storm, almost everyone living in some regions of the country can recall a time where they had a slip and fall accident. If you’re fortunate, you walked away from that experience without any injuries. However, if you were injured in this slip and fall, you’re justified in questioning whether or not you have legal recourse under the circumstances.
In general, when you sustain an injury on a property that is owned or maintained by someone else due to some dangerous or hazardous condition, you may be entitled to recover damages for both your past and future pain and suffering. However, merely slipping on a property owned and maintained by other people does not automatically lead to liability on their part. Premises liability laws have adapted over time to reflect the challenges of maintaining a property during an ongoing snow or ice storm.
Storm in Progress Doctrine
The “Storm in Progress Doctrine” was developed over time through both case law and judicial opinion. It reflects the inherent challenges that arise in trying to make a specific area safe for use when there is an ongoing storm producing precipitation and snow or ice accumulation. While this doctrine may be seen as unfair and unnecessary protection for landowners and property managers, storms can quickly undo the work put into clearing a driveway or walkway during a snow or ice storm. Accordingly, the responsible party may not be held liable if you were injured by falling as a result of hazardous conditions during an active storm or weather event.
While “in progress” conjures up the immediate nature of a storm, the courts have found that the relevant time period may be several hours or even several days. Additionally, a brief lull in the storm does not mean the doctrine doesn’t still apply.
Courts have also found that the storm progress doctrine is a valid defense during blizzard or whiteout conditions. However, it is also a sound defense in times where the weather is less severe. Moreover, the law states that a party responsible for maintenance should be given a “reasonable time” in which to clear the area of any dangerous conditions once the storm or weather event ends.
Slip and Fall Accidents
However, if you were seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, you would do well to speak with an attorney experienced in premises liability law. A capable and competent lawyer could make all the difference if a property owner or insurance company tries to brush you off with an argument that a “storm was in progress.” A premises liability lawyer can help you better understand if you have a legitimate slip and fall lawsuit and can work to get you the benefits you deserve.