Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney: Avoiding Slip & Fall Accidents in Ice and Snow Conditions February 21, 2013
By Richard M. Jurewicz, Esq.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) over 1,000,000 Americans suffer a slip, trip or fall injuries and over 17,000 people die in the United States annually because of these injuries. People who experience a slip and fall accident can suffer moderate to severe injuries including hip, leg, arm, and wrist fractures and head injuries. Aside from automobile accidents, slip, trip and fall are the second most common cause of accidental injuries.
While Pennsylvania law places responsibility on property owners to make sure that their property is free of defects that can create a hazardous condition, there are a few practical things that you can do to avoid slipping, tripping or falling on a hazardous property conditions. Always try and be aware of your surroundings and of course weather conditions. During late Fall and throughout the Winter months be aware of the potential for “black” or “clear” ice on sidewalks, parking lots and walkways. Black or clear ice can occur as a result of snow melting and refreezing or rain freezing because of a sudden drop in temperature. When walking in snow that has yet been shoveled, be aware that ice can easily hide under the snow so just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it is not there. Even when walkway surfaces do not look icy or slippery it is very possible that a thin sheet of transparent ice is covering your intended travel so make sure you walk with extreme caution.
When in a commercial parking lot such as a shopping center or mall do not park near the areas where the snow has been stockpiled. This is the area that is most susceptible to black or clear ice forming as a result of the thawing and refreezing of the melted precipitation. When finding a place to park your car look for an area in the parking lot that not only has been plowed but salted and cindered as well. When getting out of your vehicle notice the area of the parking lot where you are opening your door. If there is ice or snow on the ground find another place to park. Also, if walking through a parking lot you encounter a patch of snow or ice attempt to walk around it rather than over or through the patch of ice or snow. Remember to take smaller steps rather than your normal stride when walking in areas where snow and ice are located. Smaller steps provide for better traction, balance and stability. Don’t ever walk with your hands in your pockets no matter how cold you are because that affects your balance while walking and also does not allow you to brace yourself and break your fall so that you can try and land safely.
Whenever possible use sidewalks when walking. If there is no sidewalk and the street is clear and you have no other choice of travel, then make sure you walk against the flow of traffic so that you can see the cars passing you. Stay as close to the curb as possible. Avoid wearing dark clothes especially at night when walking outside. If possible wear bright or reflective clothing when walking outside after sundown. Wearing the proper footwear is also necessary. If you do have to walk in snow make sure you wear a pair of boots that provide you with good traction. Do not wear any type of footwear that is loose or laces that are untied.
Be aware of changes in elevation when walking from a parking lot to a sidewalk or concrete landing as transition areas create tripping hazards. Whenever possible use hand rails and railings to help you with your balance. Take note of any color marked curbing, such as yellow or white, as this is a warning that there is a change in elevation there.
While you may not be able to control the defective or hazardous condition on the property you are on, by taking the proper precautions you can greatly minimize the chance of an unexpected trip, slip or fall. Accidents do happen, however, and quite often they are due to the negligence of the property owner. In these cases, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable about premises liability in slip and fall accidents. If you have been injured in a fall due to the accumulation of ice or snow, contact Galfand Berger to schedule an appointment to discuss your rights to obtain compensation for your injuries.
With offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout the Southeast Pennsylvania/South Jersey region, including the areas surrounding Harrisburg and Allentown. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) for a free consultation or contact us online.