With the Arctic blasts sweeping down from the Canadian prairies, the streets and sidewalks in Belleville are frequently coated in layers of ice and snow. Both can bring hazards to unwary pedestrians who may trip and fall on the slippery surfaces.
But who is responsible for the subsequent injuries one might suffer from taking a tumble on the ice? Under the law, the commercial or residential property owners can be held civilly liable for the subsequent injuries in many cases.
The duty to maintain the premises can include the sidewalks
While all circumstances have to be taken into consideration in their entirety for each case, generally the property owner has the duty to reasonably maintain their property and keep the sidewalks clear of ice.
There can be a great deal of latitude in what is considered “reasonable,” of course. For instance, suppose that it snowed or sleeted overnight and your sidewalk was still icy when your morning paper was delivered at 5 a.m. Unfortunately, your newspaper carrier slipped and hit her head and required stitches. Would you be liable?
You’re allowed time to fix the problem
Very few homeowners get up before dawn after an ice or snowstorm and shovel or salt their walks while it is still dark. That would not be a reasonable expectation for a pedestrian to have at that time of the morning. Of course, responsible property owners will want to tend to the matter as soon as they can and not let drifts of snow or a patina of ice remain on their walk all day.
Pedestrians have responsibilities, too
What if a group of kids are horseplaying with each other on the sidewalk in front of your house and one gets pushed down and injured as a result? Here, where it is clear that the injured party’s own actions may have significantly contributed to their injuries, the liability burden can be lowered even more.
What’s the bottome line on these cases?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for these type of cases because individual circumstances factor so heavily into each case. That’s why if you get injured in a slip-and-fall accident on an icy sidewalk, it’s always prudent to learn more about your rights and responsibilities under Illinois law.