Ice and Snow Slip and Falls
Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, Bellingham, and all of Washington State see its fair share of snow and ice during the winter and spring months. In some places, the courts have ruled that home owners and owners of businesses have a limited duty or no duty to remove snow and ice on their property since snow and ice are considered “natural conditions.”
But that is not the law in Washington State. If a case cannot settle and goes all the way to a trial, then the jury will be given instructions from the judge called jury instructions. The jury instructions tell the jury what the laws are in Washington State on a given area.
The Washington State Pattern Jury Instructions provide a good, sound statement of the law in Washington State when it comes to liability of an owner for snow and ice:
WPI 120.07 Liability to Business or Public Invitee—Condition of Premises
An [owner of premises] [occupier of premises] [ operator] is liable for any [physical] injuries to its [business invitees] [public invitees] [customers] caused by a condition on the premises if the [owner] [occupier] [ operator]:
(a) knows of the condition or fails to exercise ordinary care to discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such [business invitees] [public invitees] [customers];
(b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it; and
(c) fails to exercise ordinary care to protect them against the danger.
Spelled out in plain English, the jury instructions in Washington State say that the injured worker has to satisfy three tests in order to win their case. First, the injured person has to prove the business either knew or should have known that there was snow or ice out and that it posed a risk. One way to do this is to look at the weather forecast (websites likes Weather.com can go far back in time) and to prove that the owner knew bad weather was coming.
The second thing that must happen is that the business owner knew or should have known that a person would not realize or be able to protect against the danger caused by the snow or ice. This can be challenging sometimes because often the owner will argue that the injured person should have seen the snow or ice and either avoided it or not set foot outside in the first place. Oftentimes it can take experts, known as human factors experts, to prove that the person had no way to guard against the snow and ice.
The third and final factor is that the injured person has to show that the owner failed to reasonably protect the person from the danger of snow and ice. As you can imagine, an easy thing for the owner to do is put up signs warning people about the danger of snow and ice or, if there’s ice out, for the owner to salt or put down de-icer on the area covered in ice, or the owner has to take steps to have the snow and ice removed. The most common areas where people slip and fall on ice are in parking lots, store entryways and exits, stairs, hallways, ramps and porches, especially if they are not covered from the elements.
The injuries from slip and fall accidents from snow and ice can be very serious, if not life threatening. The most common injuries from slips and falls from snow and ice are broken bones, fractures to the hands, knees, and legs, and often there can be bad bruises and even spinal and head injuries if you land on your back or butt.Common Premise Liability Injuries
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone’s property, then you may have suffered one of the following injuries:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Back injuries
- Butt or tailbone injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Injuries of this serious of a nature rarely just heal on their own. Rather, they require medical attention to address them. Medical specialists such as osteopaths, physiatrists, and chiropractors can help you get back to the path to health after suffering a serious injury on someone else’s property.How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
If you have been injured on someone’s property or at their business, you may have a claim against them to recoup compensation for your injuries. The Jackman Law Firm has the expertise to effectively represent you with the insurance company, in arbitration and if necessary in court to secure your rights for compensation and relief. After your injury, you are understandably upset and likely unsure of your options and which way to with your case. You are likely receiving a lot of phone calls from insurance companies, you’re going to the doctor or the chiropractor, and you may be missing work.
If this is the case, do not go through this process alone. We can help you every step of the way. We can work with the insurance companies so they do not contact you. We can help you secure all of the compensation you are owed for your injury under Washington State Law. The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover the following:
- Money for pain and suffering
- Money for lost wages
- Money for out of pocket expenses
- Money for medical bills
We have the resources, experience, and successful track record to win your case. There may be instances when you find yourself having to defend yourself from untrue accusations from the insurance company for the party that injured you. They may claim that you are somehow either entirely at fault or partly at fault for your injuries.
For instance, if you suffered a spinal cord injury because of a slip and fall at a business’ parking lot, the insurance company for the business may argue that you should have watched where you were going. If this is the case, the Jackman Law Firm can help you by sending a subpoena for documents from the company, interviewing key witnesses, and speaking to the police to see if we can do everything possible to prove your case in your favor. Feel free to call for a free consultation.