Chicago winters can quickly produce conditions that result in slip and fall accidents, as ice and heavy snow conditions naturally blanket much of our state. Consequently, slip-and-fall injuries rise dramatically.
You’ll be surprised to learn how limited the liability is for store owners when falls on ice and water occur on their properties.
The vast majority of slip and fall injuries in Illinois are non-compensable. In other words, the injured person can recover no compensation.
While it’s in the best interests of retailers to make their stores accessible to the public during the winter months in a manner that’s both convenient and safe, Illinois law usually doesn’t require a store owner, retailer, corporation or individual to pay any damages or medical bills for injuries resulting from falls on ice, snow, and/or trampled in water.
Snow, ice and slush
Injuries resulting from slip and falls on snow, ice, and slush are generally not compensable in Illinois because they are considered “an act of god.” Under the following circumstances, there generally will be no recovery in Illinois:
- The customer slips and falls on snow or ice that wasn’t shoveled by the store;
- The customer slips and falls on ice or snow that was shoveled, but the person who shoveled left residual ice and snow on the ground.
- Somebody slips and falls on ice and snow at on a front sidewalk because it wasn’t shoveled, or it was shoveled but some ice and snow remained.
However, if the accumulation of the snow, slush, or ice is “unnatural” you may be able to recover for your injuries. Under Illinois law, an accumulation is unnatural if it came to the scene negligently or carelessly through the intervention of a person. For example, here are some means of an “unnatural accumulation”:
- The store shoveled the snow into the entrance way;
- The store shoveled snow and created a large pile that melted into a pathway and ice formed.
- The store covered holes with the snow
- Water dripped from a roof due to a bad gutter
- Poor lighting or other unsafe conditions at a store.
Of course, there are always other exceptions, but the above examples are the general rule. When in doubt, an injured party must capture the conditions present at the time of injury through photos and obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses. Given that most cell phones today have adequate cameras built in, a few quick shots of the area can make the difference between a recovery of reasonable compensation and no compensation.
What may seem like a minor injury at the time could turn out to be more acute as time passes. Always report any slip and fall injuries or occurrences to a store manager or property owner, and obtain a copy of the report. The report should include a date, time of accident, general description of what happened and the name of whom you reported the incident to. Finally, always consult a lawyer to get advice on what you should do.
Contact Horwitz Horwitz & Associates
A free consultation with our Chicago injury attorneys can help ease your fears and protect your rights. If appropriate, we’ll arrange for an immediate investigation while evidence is fresh, including statements from witnesses and the Defendant, and photographs of the scene.
We invite you for a free telephone or in person consultation to discuss your accident and any questions you may have. Even if you do not wish to retain an attorney, we can set you on the right path for free. Most of our lawyers have more than 30 years of experience and we have an outstanding track record in helping our clients and creating a strong trust relationship, as you can see in our Success Record. Please call our Chicago office at (312) 372-8822, or our Joliet office at (815) 723-8822, or you can call our toll-free number at (800)-985-1819.