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Who is liable for wintertime slip-and-fall accidents?

Residents of Minneapolis are no strangers to ice, snow, sleet and other unfavorable winter weather conditions. Some may even look forward to the occasional “snow day” the season brings. However, residents of Minneapolis should be aware of any duties property owners have to keep their outdoor property safe for others.

In general, property owners are not legally obligated from a premises liability standpoint to get rid of ice or snow outside of their property due to the weather (although there may be city ordinances requiring them to do so.) That being said, if a property owner lets an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice build up outside his or her property, then he or she may be responsible if another person slips and falls on the property.

There are a number of conditions that could lead to an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice. For example, ice can build up on the roof of the building. Then, if the building’s drains are clogged, it will melt of the roof and refreeze on the ground. Another way snow or ice can accumulate unnaturally outside a person’s property is if the surface of the property slopes, leading ice to melt into puddles which then in turn refreezes.

Also, while from a premises liability standpoint a property owner may not be responsible for the accumulation of ice or snow outside his or her property, if the property owner does choose to shovel or in some other way remove the snow or ice, he or she must not do so in a negligent manner. If he or she does so, he or she could be responsible if someone slips and falls on his or her property.

As this shows, there are instances in which a property owner will be held liable if a person slips on snow or ice outside their property and is injured. Injured parties in this situation may incur a significant number of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. When this happens, victims of wintertime slip and fall accidents may want to seek compensation for the damages they suffered.

Source: FindLaw, “Conditions Leading to Outdoor Slip and Fall Accidents,” Accessed Jan. 3, 2017