Every winter, many people suffer injuries when they slip and fall on ice or snow. Sometimes, the injuries are extremely serious. If you have a slip-and-fall accident, the property owner may be legally responsible for your injuries under Virginia premises liability rules.
Virginia Premises Liability Law
Virginia property owners and occupants owe a specific legal duty to individuals who visit their property. If a person receives injuries because of a failure to meet the legal requirements of the duty, the owner or occupant may be responsible for paying compensation for the victim’s injuries. This area of law, called premises liability, is part of personal injury law.
The level of duty of a property owner depends on the reason a person is on the premises and on whether the property is open to the public or private. That general principle applies if you slip and fall on ice or snow, just as it applies in any case of any injury on another person’s property.
Sustaining an injury on someone else’s property does not automatically entitle the injured person to compensation from the property owner or occupant. Application of the legal principles of premises liability to a specific case involves complex analysis of the facts and relevant law. Assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer is essential.
Legal Rules for Slip-and-Fall Accidents on Ice or Snow
In Virginia, owners and occupants of premises that are open to the public have a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition, warn of dangerous conditions, and remove hazardous conditions in a reasonable amount of time. The specific rule for snow and ice on property open to the public requires that natural accumulations of ice or snow be removed within a reasonable amount of time after a storm ends. A landlord has the same level of responsibility to tenants.
Failure to take the required action to remove ice and snow may result in liability for slip-and-fall injuries, if breach of the legal duty causes the slip-and-fall accident. In some circumstances, multiple parties may be liable for compensating a person who slips and falls on ice or snow.
An owner of private property like a home does not have the same level of duty as the owner of a business or public facility. A homeowner has the duty to maintain the premises in reasonably safe condition, but does not have a duty to warn or remove conditions that are open and obvious, like ice and snow.
Importantly, a person traveling in an area with accumulated ice or snow also has the responsibility for exercising reasonable care. If a slip-and-fall accident occurs because a person acts negligently when navigating an area where ice or snow is visible, the injured person probably cannot recover from the property owner. That result is due to the Virginia rule of strict contributory negligence, which provides that if an injured person’s conduct contributed in any way to the injuries, no recovery is allowed. The rule is harsh, but it is the law in the state.
Compensation for a Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow
To recover for injuries from a fall on snow or ice, you must prove the necessary elements for recovering under premises liability law, which require demonstrating that breach of a legal duty caused your injuries. While failure to abide by a local snow and ice removal ordinance may result in fines or other penalties, violation of a snow and ice removal ordinance, standing alone, is not sufficient for a property owner or occupant to be legally liable for slip-and-fall injuries.
A fall on ice or snow raises complicated questions of fact and law that require analysis by a lawyer, especially since these accidents happen on exterior parts of the property, like sidewalks and parking lots, rather than inside a building. Although not everyone who falls on ice or snow can recover compensation, some cases do result in liability of a landowner, occupant, or even a company responsible for property maintenance for slip-and-fall injuries. Sometimes, more than one party is legally liable.
If you slip and fall on snow or ice, the only way to find out whether you can recover compensation is to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our premises liability lawyers at Renfro & Renfro have the knowledge and experience to analyze your case. We do not charge for your initial consultation, so you can talk with us for no cost or obligation.
Free Consultation with Our Richmond, Virginia Slip-and-Fall Lawyers
If you receive injuries in a slip and fall on ice or snow, our Virginia premises liability lawyers at Renfro & Renfro have the experience to help you recover the compensation you deserve. We serve clients in the Greater Richmond Region, including in Petersburg and Dinwiddie, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. We welcome you to schedule a consultation by using our online form.