It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or at least the most wonderful if you don’t fall and get hurt.

Already it’s been a brutal and crazy winter in Chicago.  With lots of snow, ice and slush you can count on one thing happening: lots of slip and fall injuries.

This time of year we get a ton of calls for people looking for help with a slip and fall lawsuit. There are a lot of misconceptions out there.

The biggest myth is that if you fall and get hurt on someone else’s property, they are liable and you have a case.  Sadly that is not true in Illinois.  Property owners are not in general required to salt and shovel and they do not get punished for not having someone clearing walkways 24/7.  With some of the days we’ve been having it would be literally impossible to prevent a surface from being slick.

So how do you ever have a case?

Under Illinois law you can sue for a slip and fall if the snow or ice you fell on does not develop naturally.  What does that mean in plain English?  If there is a gutter or awning or roof or other “un-natural” object that is causing snow or ice to develop and you fall on that area, you might have a case.  So if you are at a store and fall in the parking lot, you probably don’t have case.  But if in front of the store there is a sheet of ice because of a gutter draining in to a certain spot, if you fall you likely have a case.

The same rules hold true for individual home owners.  We see a lot of falls on steps at apartment buildings in Chicago.  A good attorney will investigate if the snow naturally blew on to the steps or if something about the building caused it to happen.

A lot of falls actually occur inside of businesses due to wet floors.  These are tough cases as well. Under Illinois law, if you slip on water that has been dragged in from people’s shoes, you probably don’t have a case. Essentially stores are not required to make their whole floor carpet or mop all day.  On the other hand if you fall on a wet floor from a leaky freezer or something else within the store’s control, you’d likely have a case if injured.

These laws can be very confusing.  Stay safe and if you have any questions about this area of law, call us any time for a free consultation at 312-346-5320.