Cold winters may invoke holiday memories for some, but they are also the reason behind the increase in slip and fall lawsuits in the area. Snow and ice are the culprits, and depending on the place you are injured and your status as a visitor, you could be compensated for your harm. Our knowledgeable slip and fall attorneys can assess your case and help you through this difficult time.

It is often hard to know when a property owner crosses the line from responsible to negligent. When you slip on a thin patch of ice in a parking lot and it is raining, is the lot owner responsible? Must snow be shoveled even as it falls? These are good questions to ask our skilled legal professionals at Lowenthal and Abrams when you suffer a slip and fall involving snow or ice in Philadelphia as they are highly trained in handling such matters.

Duty to Maintain Property

Property owners are either commercial or residential, and their visitors are either conducting business or making a social call. Owners and property managers have a higher duty to protect visitors conducting business, who are called invitees, than those making social calls, who are known as licensees.

For invitees, owners must inspect their property for hazards such as icy or snow-covered parking lots, and repair them, usually by shoveling and salting to prevent slip and falls. They can also warn invitees by cordoning off slippery areas, such as placing cones or ropes around the area, or setting up signs so dangerous areas can be avoided.

Licensees must be warned about any icy or snow-covered areas that pose a danger. The warning can be as simple as asking a neighbor walking up the icy walkway to watch their step.

Only Child Trespassers Are Protected

Property owners do not owe a duty to warn or clear premises of snow and ice if the visitor is a trespassing adult who is on the property without the owner’s consent. However, child trespassers fall under Pennsylvania’s Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. This legislation is illustrated by the homeowner who builds a detailed snowman, attracting the child trespasser onto the property. The child then slips and falls on the icy walkway while running toward the snowman. Because children are impulsive and may not recognize danger, the property owner has a duty to protect them or compensate their parents if they are injured.

Understanding the Hills and Ridges Doctrine

The state makes it more difficult for injured parties to sue property owners when they slip and fall on ice or in snow. The Hills and Ridge Doctrine gives prospective defendants leeway by not obligating them to plow or shovel snow, or salt icy areas, until the snowstorm has ended, and a reasonable time has elapsed.

The doctrine uses the benchmark of the property owner allowing the snow and ice to accumulate in elevations and ridges that are unreasonable, which is when their liability kicks in if a pedestrian slips, falls, and is injured. However, in a raging snowstorm where snow and ice accumulate in hills and ridges before the storm ends, the property owner will not be liable for slips and falls if the conditions are prevalent throughout the area. Thus, generally slippery conditions due to natural accumulation of snow may not be actionable unless the cause is not natural, such as:

  • Broken water pipes the property owner fails to fix before they ice over, and someone is injured
  • A leaky spigot drips onto the property owner’s walkway, ices over, and a customer slips and is injured
  • A storm drain goes unrepaired and backs up, freezes, and causes a slip and fall
  • Ice accrues in a large sidewalk crack, and a pedestrian falls

The Hills and Ridges Doctrine is only invoked when a property owner negligently fails to remove snow and ice within a reasonable time. Talk to our aggressive attorneys to learn how we can assist people after slips and falls that involve snow and ice in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Slip and Falls Involving Snow or Ice Require Knowledgeable Representation

When you slip and fall because of icy or snowy weather, you can sustain serious injuries that will keep you from working and collecting your wages and can also harm you emotionally. Take action by getting legal help once your physical condition is stabilized.

Our trusted attorneys at Lowenthal and Abrams will analyze your circumstances to determine the best strategy for getting you compensation from a negligent property owner. You are entitled to an adequate settlement or damages award after slips and falls involving snow or ice in Philadelphia. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.


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