Grazian and Volpe have fielded thousands of calls from potential clients who have been injured during a slip and fall accident. People can suffer serious and possibly permanent damage from a simple fall including concussions, spinal injuries and broken bones. Many of these personal injuries require surgery, physical therapy and lost time from work. Now that spring is upon us, the Grazian and Volpe phones are especially active due to the snow, freeze, thaw and re-freeze weather cycle that make Chicago infamous.
It is always difficult to explain to someone who has been injured and is suffering that their injury may not be actionable and they will not be able to recover for their injuries and pain. Most often this is in the context of a injury that is due to natural accumulation of ice or snow.
When people call our Chicago offices we will immediately question them as to how and what caused the slip and fall. Often they may say that it had recently snowed and/or the temperature dropped and the area had not been shoveled or plowed causing them to slip on the ice or snow accumulation. Unshoveled snow or an accumulation of ice caused by Mother Nature are “natural accumulations” and the property owner is not responsible for injuries suffered by a person who falls thereupon. People are often very surprised to discover that under Illinois Law there exists no duty for a property owner to remove snow or ice from their property. A property owner may be a homeowner, condo association, a government body or a commercial entity.
It is only when a property owner undertakes to remove the snow or ice and thereby creates the slip and fall hazard or what is known under the law as “an unnatural accumulation” of snow, ice or water that the property owner may have liability for injuries suffered during a slip and fall.
The distinction between what constitutes liability under the distinction of “natural” versus “unnatural” accumulations is subject to other considerations such as whether there was a defect in the stairs where the snow had fallen or the fall had occurred at work. If possible, it is important to take a photo of the place where the slip and fall occurred and the names and phone numbers of any witnesses. If you are in a commercial or retail premise make sure to file an accident report if possible. There are many factors wherein a natural accumulation may be actionable due to other factors and it is always best to call the lawyers at Grazian and Volpe to help make that determination.
On the streets, sidewalks and buildings of Chicago there exist many hazards that may cause a serious slip and fall injury, including snow, ice, broken pavement, stairs and signage. Not all these hazards may lead to compensation for personal injuries suffered. It is always best to travel safely and mindfully to avoid accidents but if an accident cannot be avoided the first step is to seek medical attention, the second is to call Grazian and Volpe, Chicago’s personal injury attorneys for over 30 years.