Sidewalk slips and falls are the basis for many personal injury lawsuits, and for good reason. Many of these accidents occur during the winter months, due to inclement weather and the accompanying hazardous conditions. You can help avoid slipping, tripping and falling this winter by exercising care and keeping an eye out for potential hazards.

Snow and Ice Accumulation

When the temperatures drop and snow starts to fall, sidewalks can quickly transform into unstable walking surfaces. Snow can pile up, making it hard to walk, and the ice that accumulates underneath can make the surface extremely dangerous.

Typically, property owners or possessors are not required by law to remove snow and ice outside of a building unless the amount or location of accumulation makes the surface unreasonably unsafe for walking. If a property owner or possessor chooses to remove the snow or ice, care must be taken to ensure that removal does not increase the likelihood of slips and falls.

Inadequate Lighting

Without proper lighting, pedestrians often have trouble spotting cracks, holes and uneven surfaces that can cause sidewalk slips and falls. Curbs and steps also may go unnoticed, which results in many people tripping and falling.

Cloudy skies, falling snow and the early darkness of winter can make it particularly difficult to see sidewalk hazards. Adequate lighting is essential for avoiding missteps that could lead to an accident.

Legal Claims for Sidewalk Slips and Falls

Slipping, falling or even suffering an injury aren’t enough to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit. In order for property owners or possessors to be held liable for your accident, you must show that they knew about the unsafe condition and neglected to remedy the situation.

For instance, a property owner could be held responsible for a fall caused by accumulated ice if it was the result of refrozen overflow from a clogged drain that he or she failed to repair. Or if the owner knew that sidewalks were poorly lit but still did not install adequate lighting, he or she may be found to be liable for resulting accidents.

Generally, property owners and possessors are not held responsible for slips, trips and falls that occur on public sidewalks outside of their property, unless the public sidewalk is used exclusively by their customers or clients. In some cases, the municipality in which the sidewalk is located may be held liable for accidents, but it is necessary to prove that the municipality knew of the unsafe conditions and was negligent in properly handling the situation.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone’s negligence, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine your legal options. Contact the professionals at Montgomery Dowdle in Boise to discuss your sidewalk slip-and-fall case.