How PA’s Rapid Winter Weather Changes Increase the Risk of an Ice Slip and Fall Accident
If you live in Southeastern Pennsylvania, you’ve probably been enjoying the recent warm weather – especially after the brutal “bomb cyclone” storm that hit earlier this month. But while 50-degree weather may feel like a pleasant break from the frigid January temperatures, such extreme and rapid weather fluctuations can actually be dangerous. When the weather shifts so quickly and dramatically, it is easier for slippery ice slicks to form, creating a serious injury hazard for pedestrians and others. If you or one of your family members was recently injured after slipping on ice in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia slip and fall accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm can help you evaluate your legal options. It’s important to discuss your injury with a knowledgeable attorney, because depending on why, when, and how your fall occurred, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses caused by the accident.
Slip and Fall Risk Increases When Ice and Snow Melts and Refreezes
As a resident of Philadelphia, you already know just how fickle winter weather in Southeastern Pennsylvania can be. Our climate can shift from balmy to brutal in a matter of days, dumping unpredictable torrents of sleet, snow, or rain on streets, sidewalks, and parking lots. Unfortunately, because of the way snow and ice form, thaw, and re-form during rapid weather cycles, sudden shifts in the temperature can seriously increase the risk of a slip and fall injury.
On a cold winter day, inches of snow can blanket the streets of Philadelphia, which can create safety hazards for pedestrians. Property owners generally have a responsibility to remove unreasonable safety hazards, such as shoveling snow from the sidewalk around a business, or sprinkling down salt to help melt away ice on the walkways around an apartment complex. If a property owner carelessly fails to take these measures, and there is a rapid transition from cold to warm weather, the increased temperatures allow the unremoved accumulations of snow and ice to melt during the day and refreeze overnight. By the following morning, the sidewalk or parking lot will be coated in a thin, slick sheet of slippery ice, which may be invisible, difficult to see, or obscured by snowfall.
Can I Sue My Landlord for Failing to Remove Snow and Ice?
While snow and ice are always hazardous for pedestrians, these conditions become even more dangerous in situations where landlords, business owners, property managers, or maintenance workers allow thawing and refreezing to occur, leading to unreasonable, preventable formations of ice. If a person is injured in a slip and fall accident on ice, such as the resident of an apartment complex or an employee leaving his or her office building, the property owner or other parties can potentially be held responsible.
However, liability does not automatically exist in every case where an individual is injured by slipping on ice or snow. Instead, liability for an ice slip and fall in Pennsylvania depends on several factors, such as:
- The passage of time. In Harmotta v. Bender (1992), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which, alongside the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, is one of the state’s two intermediate appellate courts, ruled that a property owner must act “within a reasonable time after notice to remove [ice or snow] when it is in a dangerous condition.”
- The “hills and ridges” doctrine. This doctrine holds that the mere existence of slick conditions does not create liability for property owners. Under the hills and ridges doctrine, liability arises when natural build-ups of ice and snow form “hills and ridges.”
- The statute of limitations, and when the injury occurred. A personal injury claim will typically be barred unless it is filed before a certain date. This time limit is known as the “statute of limitations.” In Pennsylvania, an injury victim generally has two years from the date of injury to bring a claim, with some exceptions. Thus, it is crucial to consult with a Philadelphia ice slip and fall attorney right away if you or a family member was recently injured.
Philadelphia, PA Slip and Fall Accident Lawyers Handling Personal Injury Claims
If you were injured in a Pennsylvania slip and fall accident due to seasonal icy or snowy conditions, financial compensation may be available. However, due to the complex liability laws impacting winter-weather slip and fall claims in Pennsylvania, it is critical to work with an experienced Philadelphia premises liability attorney who can effectively represent you against insurance companies, maintenance companies, and other parties who could be at fault.
At the Philadelphia personal injury law firm of The Reiff Law Firm, our trial-ready, award-winning slip and fall injury attorneys have nearly 40 years of experience handling fall injuries and other lawsuits on behalf of accident victims. Our dedicated legal team is ready to fight aggressively for you and your family, and will make every effort to maximize your recovery.
To confidentially discuss a potential slip and fall claim in a free consultation with our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers, contact The Reiff Law Firm online, or call us today at (215) 246-9000. We handle cases in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and beyond.