Slip and Fall

Snow, Ice and a Slip and Fall – What you need to know before you sue

For our purposes today, I am going to discuss two types of slip and falls. One – those that occur on sidewalks or paved areas. Two – those that occur elsewhere.

No Pedestrians

What happens if you slip and fall in an area where pedestrians wouldn’t be expected to travel? You may have no recourse against the landowner.  Pennsylvania Courts generally hold that unless a landowner should expect a pedestrian to walk on a certain part of their land, they have no duty to keep that land free and clear of snow and ice.  For example, say you are walking on a sidewalk in your neighborhood.  You decide to leave the sidewalk, for whatever reason, and walk on a homeowners front lawn instead.  The lawn is covered with snow and ice and you are caused to fall and are injured. 

Perhaps you can prove that walking on the sidewalk was more dangerous than walking on the lawn. If not, the Court will likely find that the homeowner had no duty to keep their lawn free and clear of ice and snow. Thus, liability will not be found against them.

Yes, Pedestrians

For those incidents that involve a slip and fall in areas where pedestrians are expected to travel, like sidewalks and parking lots, Pennsylvania Court apply what is called the “doctrine of Hills and Ridges”.  Under this doctrine, in order for you to recover, you must show that ridges or elevations of snow and ice caused the fall.  Proving that there were general slippery conditions will not be sufficient to find liability on the part of the homeowner.  It must appear that there were dangerous conditions due to ridges or elevations which were allowed to remain for an unreasonable length of time, or were created by a defendant’s negligence.  In those situations the landowner owes a duty to pedestrians to act within a reasonable time after they become aware or should have become aware of the existence of the snow to remove it.

If you suffered a slip and fall on ice or snow, contact us for a no obligation case evaluation.


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