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Can You Sue If You Slip on Ice on Someone’s Property?

By Butler Prather LLP on December 20, 2018

Slip and fall accidents send thousands of people to the hospital every year. They are some of the most common causes of personal injury and premises liability claims in Atlanta as well as throughout Georgia. As temperatures drop, the risk of slip and falls rises. Ice, snow, and sleet on sidewalks and in parking lots can cause serious physical injuries. In some cases, victims of ice slips may be able to seek compensation for their damages from the at-fault party.

Ice Slips and Premises Liability

It is every property owner’s responsibility to keep his or her premises reasonably safe for visitors and invited guests. This responsibility can involve repairing known hazards, searching for hidden hazards, and warning guests of potential hazards that may exist on the property. If a property owner’s sidewalks or front steps ice over every winter, this is a foreseeable risk the owner must remedy before inviting guests, customers to a business, or contractors over.

Failure to clear ice away in a reasonable amount of time, resulting in an ice slip and injury, could place damage liability with the property owner. You may have grounds to file a claim against a property owner after you slip on ice if you can prove the owner owed you a duty of care, breached this duty by failing to clear the ice, and that this caused your personal injuries. You would only have this right as an invited guest on the property or someone lawfully there for your own purposes (such as repairing the roof).

Ice Slip and Fall Statistics

In 2014 (the most recent year data is available), 42,480 work injuries in the U.S. involved ice, sleet, or snow. Slip and falls account for over one million annual emergency room visits, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. The risk of suffering a fall greatly increases in winter precipitation. The winter months can present serious hazards for Georgia workers, shoppers, drivers, and senior citizens.

Can You Sue the City for an Ice Slip?

Sovereign immunity protects government bodies from liability in personal injury accidents. However, many states – including Georgia – have passed Tort Claims Acts to enable injured parties to file personal injury lawsuits against the state or city government, if the government or one of its employee’s negligence contributed to the accident. You can bring a claim against the city for an ice slip if a government agency or federal employee caused or contributed to your accident, such as by negligently failing to clear ice from a property.

Note, however, that to file a claim against the government, your incident must not have resulted from one of the several exceptions listed in the Tort Claims Act. These exceptions include an act or omission from a state employee who was exercising a rule at the time of the incident. The employee must have been performing work-related duties at the time of your incident to have a claim against the government. You or your lawyer must file a written claim of damages within six months of your ice slip accident, through the City of Atlanta’s website.

Common Ice Slip Injuries

Slipping on ice can cause serious personal injuries, especially if the victim is a senior citizen. Fractures are one of the most serious injuries that can arise from falls. Falls are the number one cause of older American injury-related deaths in the United States. Complications from hip fractures after a bad fall can often be fatal for elderly ice slip victims. Several other ice slip injuries can also occur:

  • Head and brain injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord fractures
  • Broken bones
  • Hip fracture
  • Wrist fracture
  • Elbow and knee dislocation

Slipping and falling on a patch of ice could put the victim in the hospital for days or weeks. The victim may need surgeries, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and may have a temporary disability during recovery. Many victims face large out-of-pocket costs in the form of lost wages and medical expenses. It is important to discuss the possibility of financial recovery with an attorney after an ice slip in Georgia.

Posted in: Premises Liability

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