Premises Liability and Washington State Snow and Ice Accidents
Under the principle of premises liability, a property owner or occupier has a responsibility to keep their property in a safe condition and warn visitors of potential hazards. In colder states, this concept often arises in the context of slip and fall accidents on snow or ice.
If a property owner fails to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from hazardous conditions caused by snow or ice, they may be liable for any injuries sustained as a result. What is considered reasonable will depend on the specific situation but may include treating walkways with salt and sand or clearing ice or snow within a reasonable time.
When an injured party pursues a claim against a property owner, they may seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
If you have suffered an injury after falling on snow or ice, call the personal injury attorneys at Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman. We will examine the facts of your case and determine whether you have the grounds for a lawsuit. Call 206-464-1952 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a Free Consultation.
Who Is At Fault for Snow and Ice Accidents in Washington State?
Liability for snow and ice accidents varies between states. A property owner or occupier is not automatically liable for every slip and fall accident on their property as a result of winter weather conditions.
Whether a property owner owes a duty of care, and to what degree, may depend on factors including:
- the status of the injured person (were they a guest, invitee, or trespasser?)
- the type of property
- whether the area of the property was public or private
- the level of control the owner has over the property
In some situations, liability for a snow and ice accident might extend to a third party, such as a company contracted to plow the snow or a property management company.
Individuals must also exercise reasonable care in icy or snowy conditions. If the injured person acted negligently in this respect, the property owner may allege contributory negligence.
The Natural Accumulation Rule
In some states, courts apply the natural accumulation rule to snow and ice accident cases. This rule says that a property owner is not liable for injuries sustained as a result of a natural build-up of snow and ice. A natural build-up occurs over time as a result of the weather.
Where the natural accumulation rule applies, a property owner is only liable for injuries resulting from an unnatural accumulation caused by their maintenance or use of the property that they knew or should have known about.
Do You Need a Premises Liability Attorney for Snow and Ice Accidents in Washington State?
Strict time limits apply to file a personal injury claim. If you have been injured as a result of a slip or fall accident on snow or ice, you should speak to a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after seeking medical attention.
The law around liability for snow and ice accidents can be complex and varies depending on the specific circumstances of a case. An attorney can review your case and advise you whether you have a basis for a personal injury case and the damages you may be entitled to claim. If you've been injured after a slip or fall on snow or ice, contact Law Offices of Paul L. Schneiderman today to schedule a Free Consultation and learn how we can assist you in recovering.