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Premises Liability: Can You Recover For Slipping On An Icy Surface?


Winter might be winding down, but there is still ample opportunity for snow, ice, and other wintry precipitation in the Badger State, which can make for slick sidewalks, parking lots, driveways, and roads.

While icy conditions are dangerous for drivers, pedestrians are also at risk. In January, the La Crosse Tribune reported that numerous hospitals have treated above-average numbers of patients for ice-related injuries, including concussions, fractures, and bruises. Many of these injuries were sustained when people slipped and fell on icy walkways. Doctors recommend taking certain precautions, like keeping your arms extended out to your sides to maintain balance and wearing an extra layer of padding.

Proving Liability for Your Slip-and-Fall Accident

Slippery surfaces make it especially difficult for customers, who can easily slip and fall in a parking lot or sidewalk while trying to visit a restaurant, department store, or other retail establishments.

The Wisconsin Safe Place Law requires business owners to maintain their premises in a manner that is as safe as reasonably possible (for both employees and customers). For example, owners must remove snow and ice from outside their stores in a reasonable amount of time. (What is considered reasonable often depends on the circumstances.) If the owner outsources snow and ice removal to a third party, that party can also be held liable for a customer’s slip-and-fall injury.

While business owners are responsible for keeping their premises safe for customers, injured customers are responsible for proving their cases. Here are a few tips for ensuring that you have enough evidence to establish the owner’s liability:

Take photographs of the conditions that led to your injury and the surrounding area.

  • Document exactly what happened and when — note the date and times.
  • Go to the doctor so that you have medical records documenting the extent and likely cause of your injuries.
  • Take note of any eyewitnesses who might be willing to testify on your behalf.

Contributory Negligence

To recover damages from a business owner, you have to prove that the owner acted negligently and that his negligence caused your injury. If the business owner proves that your own negligence contributed to the injury, then the amount of damages you’re entitled to recover will be reduced by your percentage of negligence.

What does this mean? If the business owner can prove that you weren’t watching where you were going, or that you strayed from a clearly marked walkway where the snow and ice had already been removed or anything that shows you were at least partly at fault, you won’t recover full damages. And if the business owner can prove that your negligence was greater than his negligence, then you might not recover any damages at all. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you prove your case.

Contact Us Today

The personal injury attorneys at Bye, Goff & Rohde understand that slip-and-fall injuries can have a long-term impact on your health and finances. With nearly 50 years of experience, we know how to build an effective premises liability case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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