Anyone who has listened to the song “Winter Wonderland” knows that this tune paints a beautiful landscape of glistening snow where friends and loved ones can play and enjoy winter festivities. And while this is true, it doesn’t address the many hazards that winter weather brings with it, or the slip and fall accidents that can happen as a result.
High Risk Hazards
Snow is undeniably gorgeous – but there is a reason that it’s called a “blanket of snow”. It literally covers everything that it touches. This means that hazards you might have otherwise avoided are now completely hidden from sight. These invisible hazards can easily cause a slip and fall accident:
Icy winter weather is doubly dangerous when it comes to potholes – it both creates and hides them. A pothole is created when water enters the ground underneath of the pavement. During cold weather, this water freezes and expands – which also causes the pavement to unnaturally expand. When the water melts, the pavement is left with unstable spots that can crack and bend, causing a pothole.
Potholes that are covered in snow can easily cause a pedestrian to trip and fall onto the hard pavement and the ice covering it, resulting in severe injury.
Just like with potholes, the winter weather can create uneven spots and cracks in the sidewalk. These defects are one of the leading causes of slip and fall accident. In Philadelphia, the owner of the property that abuts the sidewalk is responsible for repairing all defects that could potentially create a hazard for pedestrians.
Stairs and Steps
It doesn’t take more than a fall from one step to seriously hurt someone – and when the snow reaches 6 or more inches, it’s enough to cover even that one step.
When people trudge through the winter weather, snow and ice stick to the bottom and sides of their shoes. When they walk indoors, that ice and snow melts and creates puddles, often in the entrance.
Another common source of pooling water is icicles or the snow on a roof. As soon as the sun hits these frozen natural wonders, they begin to melt and drip off of the top of the building. Multiple puddles can form and then refreeze during the night. But the reality is that it doesn’t matter if these pools are frozen or not – the slick surface makes it easy for anyone to lose their balance and fall.
Any one of these icy winter weather hazards can cause injuries that are career ending and life-altering.
Injuries Commonly Suffered
Over and over we’ve heard our clients say “I couldn’t believe it! I mean I only fell a few feet!” when talking about how severe their injuries are. As much as we don’t want to admit it, our bodies are fragile and it doesn’t take much to do long-lasting damage. Some of the most seriou
s injuries that slip and fall accident victims suffer from are:
A disc is a small cushion that sits between the vertebrae. If this cushion is damaged, it can push through a crack into the tough exterior. This can result in pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in any limb, as well as the back.
The vertebrae are the protective covering for the spinal cord. If one of the vertebra is fractured, the patient may suffer from pain, both acute and chronic and deformity of the spine.
Traumatic Brain Injury
The brain is still something of a mystery to doctors. The signs and symptoms of a brain injury may be either temporary or permanent. These include dizziness, chronic headaches, difficulty speaking, changes to fine motor function, paralysis, confusion, and changes in personality. In many cases, the victim’s family has to help them adjust to a new lifestyle.
Any one of the 206 bones in the body can be shattered from the sheer impact of hitting the ground. While fractured bones are often thought of as an “easy” injury to repair, the reality is that the break may occur in a limb that is necessary in order for the victim to do their job. Fractured bones can take months to heal without complications. If the bone doesn’t set properly or an infection occurs, additional time may be required.
Any time that someone falls due to one of these hazards, and is injured on someone else’s property, they have the right to seek legal action against the party whose negligence resulted in their accident.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is when someone fails to act in the way that a reasonable person should in a given situation. When it comes to slip and falls in winter conditions, this might mean that a property owner or maintenance company failed to clear snow, ice, or pooling water in a high traffic area in a timely manner. By failing to remove these hazards, they become liable for any injuries that occur on the premises.