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Who Is At Fault If I Slip On Icy Sidewalk In Taylorsville, UT?

When the temperatures drop and sidewalks become icy, the risk of slipping, falling, and getting injured increases dramatically. Who is responsible for maintaining steps and walkways? Who is liable for injuries? Whether you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may wonder whether you should call an attorney. Even if the case doesn’t go to court, a legal representative can help you through many parts of your claim.

Unfortunately, slip and fall injuries are quite common during the winter, potentially costing victims medical bills and time away from work. In the United States, slip and falls account for millions of significant injuries a year, such as broken bones and head injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Utah, the number of adults dying from slip and fall injuries is on the rise. With this information, it makes sense to hold property owners responsible for maintaining walkways during the winter months.

Factors Affecting Liability

As the victim of a fall, understanding the factors that affect the property owner’s liability is important. Questions such as who is to be held liable and whether the insurance companies will provide adequate compensation can be addressed by legal professionals.

Property Owner Responsibility 

Property owners of all types are liable for certain types of slip and fall injuries that happen on their property, especially if the victim can show that the property owner was aware of the hazard and did not act appropriately. The types of owners who could be responsible for injuries include:

  • Single-family residential
  • Multi-family residential 
  • Businesses of all types
  • Municipal and township buildings and properties, including parks

The question of liability isn’t limited to ownership, however. Individuals or companies hired to maintain properties may also be found liable. In some cases, a combination of owner and caretaker may be held responsible.

A lack of maintenance may create dangerous situations for pedestrians in the area, and manipulation of the environment can also increase risk. As a slip and fall victim, you may be entitled to damages. Proving negligence can sometimes be tricky, and the help of an attorney may mean the difference between receiving compensation or not.

Maintenance Responsibilities

The owners of the property are generally responsible for addressing any issues that could possibly cause harm or injury, including icy conditions. Property owners can act preemptively to reduce slick conditions using salt-based de-icers, sand, cat litter, and chemical de-icers. Shoveling and de-icing are standard tasks in addition to year-round maintenance. Warning signs or barricades may be additionally necessary. If you’ve been injured, take pictures of the area to show what has and has not been done to protect against icy walkways.

State Laws

The laws and ordinances regarding appropriate snow and ice care vary by state. Many states have natural accumulation rules that give property owners some exemptions from liability. In Utah, property owners, both business and residential, have 24 hours to remove snow and ice after a storm. If you don’t know how to determine the specifics of the law, an attorney is a resource for getting more detailed information.

Reasonable Conduct

When a personal injury occurs from a slip and fall accident, establishing liability is crucial for a clear outcome. While property owners are responsible for properly maintaining sidewalks, parking lots, and other walkways, once they’ve taken reasonable precautions and steps, it is hard to prove fault. Members of the public are also responsible for taking appropriate care when walking in areas that are covered in snow and ice.

Personal Responsibility

Individuals and groups must behave reasonably for the existing conditions. Property owners may not be found liable if members of the public venture into areas where they are not reasonably expected to go. Insurance companies may work to show that you were behaving in a way that led to your injury. An attorney on your side can help you navigate this situation.

Government Liability

Many state and local government facilities are immune to accident liability. However, there are limited options for receiving compensation after a slip and fall. Negligence and unreasonable danger must be shown. Victims of slip and fall accidents must also show that the municipality was aware of the unsafe conditions. In cases involving government entities, accident lawyers offer resources you may not have otherwise.

Potential Areas of Compensation

Victims of slip and fall injuries may seek compensation based on physical harm, emotional distress, and financial costs. Examples of financial damages include loss of income, loss of earning ability, medical expenses, and services directly related to the injuries. Non-financial damages may include pain and suffering, loss of marriage, incurred disabilities, and reduced quality of life.

How To File a Claim

Determining whether to file and finding out how to file a claim against a property owner aren’t questions that people ask until they’ve been hurt. Attorneys are familiar with these proceedings and will help you understand the course of action.

Document the Case

Include pictures of the accident and your injuries. Some cases may require photographic evidence of the clothing you wore at the time of the accident. Take pictures immediately if possible. As soon as you are able, write down in detail everything you can remember about the accident, including details that may seem insignificant. If there are witnesses to and if anyone arrived on the scene following the accident, gather their names and their contact information.

Work With an Attorney

When you meet with an attorney, you’ll work through a lot of paperwork; these are often referred to as “pleadings.” During the discovery process, both sides of the lawsuit will exchange information to establish the facts of the accident. One of the primary advantages to working with an attorney is having a legal professional on your side.

Determine Who To File Against

Based on the strength of your records, including eyewitness statements, your attorneys may recommend who to include in your legal case. Your attorney will prepare the complaint listing the plaintiff, the defendant, and a written statement of what happened.

Gather Evidence of Cost

The injured party should gather all possible records documenting the financial damages, including medical bills, loss of work statements, proof of services required because of the accident, and similar paperwork. During the discovery phase of the proceedings, all parties will disclose this information and any witness statements and police reports.

Negotiation and Settlement Out of Court

The majority of injury lawsuits are settled out of court, either through negotiation or an informal settlement. An informal settlement generally happens without legal input; the injured party accepts an agreed-upon amount of compensation from the defendant or the relevant insurance company. Before you agree to an informal settlement, consider the benefits of involving an attorney. A legal assessment of the case could help you better understand the strengths of your claim, the appropriate amount of damages to expect, and whether there have been similar cases in the past.

Trial Proceedings

If neither legal proceedings nor an informal settlement is reached, the case may go to trial. There the gathered evidence is presented to a judge. Some trials take months or years before they are resolved. The assistance of an attorney can be invaluable in these drawn-out proceedings.

Remember that injuries due to icy conditions take a long time to heal, and the accompanying legal case may take even longer. When you want help through a personal injury lawyer, reach out to Fielding Law. Contact attorneys in the office at (877) 880-4090 or online at https://www.fieldinglaw.com.