It’s that time of year where even with the occasional nice day of weather, there has been a lot of snow, ice and slush.

Depending on where you live in Illinois, there are different laws about whether or not you have to shovel.  There are also different outcomes when it comes to falling on ice and getting hurt on someone else’s property.

Generally speaking, if you fall as the result of the “natural accumulation” of snow and ice, the property owner will not be held responsible.  In other words, if it snows overnight and the Jewel parking lot is icy, they likely won’t be at fault if you fall.  Property owners aren’t always required to clear snow or ice and certainly aren’t required to do it as it’s happening.

In Chicago residential homeowners can face a fine for not shoveling, whereas business owners can be sued by you if you fall and get injured.  The City of Chicago requires that if snow stops coming down before 4 p.m. you have three hours to clear it. If the snow stops falling after 4 p.m., you have to clear before 10 a.m. on the next day. No shoveling is required on Sundays. You are required to clear a 5-foot wide path along the sidewalk, where conditions allow.

In most cities outside of Chicago you aren’t required to shovel, but can’t create a hazardous condition or ignore defects the snow and ice cause.

So what is an un-natural accumulation?  The most common example would be ice that forms because it came down off of an awning or a gutter.  Those things are man made and added to properties.  If they create a hazard, you’d likely be successful in suing the property owner for an injury from a fall. On the other hand, if you fall from water that is dragged in to stores off of shoes, you’d have a harder time prevailing.  Store owners are not required to continuously mop.

If you are hurt as the result of a fall on snow or ice, this is what attorneys we work with want you to think about:

1. Get medical treatment right away if you need it.

2. Have someone take a photo or video of the area where you fell right away. You have to prove that you fell due to some negligent or hazardous condition. It’s hard to do this when you are on the ground with a broken ankle, we get it. To the extent you can though, have someone document the area  where you fell right away.

3. Talk to an attorney who understands the Chicago ordinance and/or the Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act.  An experienced lawyer can certainly be the difference between winning and losing a case or even the difference of tens of thousands of dollars when a case settles.

If you have any questions or want a referral to a lawyer with a track record of success in these cases, please call us any time, for free at 312-346-5320.  We help everywhere in Illinois.