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Friday, January 22, 2016

Dealing with Injuries Caused by Winter Weather

Are you responsible for falling due to winter weather?

Say what you want about the South, but nobody retires and moves up North. That is our retort when jokes about how we Southerners handle winter weather start pouring in. But the truth is, a lot of us aren’t very good at dealing with snow and ice. So, if we slip and fall and injure ourselves on a snow or ice-slick surface, does that mean it is our fault? The answer is everyone’s least favorite lawyerly answer “it depends.”

If you slip and fall and hurt yourself in your own driveway while you are trying to scrape the ice off your car’s windshield, you have nobody to blame but yourself and Old Man Winter.

However, if you slip and fall in a puddle of melted snow while you are at the grocery store stocking up on milk, bread, and toilet paper, the store owner may be responsible for paying for your injuries.

In Kentucky, you must prove all of the following things occurred in order to recover for your slip and fall injury:

  • You suffered an injury
  • Your injury was caused by a dangerous condition
  • The owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition
  • The owner had a reasonable opportunity to correct or warn of the condition, which was not reasonably open and obvious to the injured party at the time of the accident

So, applying this to the grocery store example above, you would probably be able to get the owner of the store to pay for your injuries if he or she knew melting snow and ice were making the floor wet and slippery but did nothing about it. You are much less likely to win your case if the store had one of the big yellow “wet floor” signs out and someone working to mop up the puddles on the floor every few minutes.

Don’t let this example deter you from talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer about your specific situation. These types of cases are highly fact-dependent, and what makes one case a no-go can be the winning argument in another.

Because slip and fall cases are so fact-specific, any attorney you reach out to is going to need as much information as possible about your injuries, the site of the accident, and the conditions that caused you to slip and fall. So, if you are able to do so, consider pulling together the following information before you have your first meeting with an attorney:

  • Medical records documenting your injury
  • Photos of your injury
  • Photos of the place where you slipped and fell
  • The address of the place where you fell and any other information about the location
  • Contact information for the owner of the property where you fell
  • The exact date and time the injury occurred
  • A list of people who witnessed the event or helped you immediately afterwards

Don’t worry if you don’t have all of this information, but try to gather as much of it as possible.

Slipping and falling on the snow and ice is something that happens to everyone.  But just because it happens to everyone, or just because it happened to you because you aren’t used to dealing with winter weather, doesn’t mean that you should be ashamed to ask for compensation for the injury you suffered.

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