A slip and fall accident on ice and snow in winter is common. Ice and snow make for some precarious situations, but we can’t stay indoors all season.
No matter how careful you are, a slip and fall on snow and ice can happen to anyone. It’s scary and can cause a lot of pain and injury with a ton of medical expenses as well.
Sometimes, the only way to get your life back to normal after a slip and fall on ice and snow is to file a personal injury claim. Understanding how the process works with premises liability attorney in Virginia makes it much easier.
What Is a Slip and Fall Accident?
A slip and fall accident happens when someone slips or trips on someone else’s property and is injured.
Many circumstances can cause such an accident, including:
- Bad lighting
- Cluttered walkways
- Tangles of electrical cords
- Damaged handrails
- Loose flooring
Add an icy patch of snow, and the chances of a dangerous fall are even greater.
Injuries From Slip and Falls on Ice or Snow
Injuries from falling on a snow-covered or icy sidewalk are often severe. Fracturing your arm while attempting to cushion your fall or impact your head on the unforgiving ground is possible. You could break your leg in a bad landing or even get a concussion if you hit your head.
Call an attorney as soon as possible to help you understand the severity of the most common injuries after a fall on ice and snow.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A brain injury can cause many complex health problems. It’s not just emotionally and financially hard for the victim but also for their family. TBIs are also called a head injury or an acquired head injury. They usually happen when something hits your head hard, like a doorknob, table, or handrail.
- Bone fracture: Broken bones are called fractures, whether a hairline fracture or a complete break. Bones can break in different ways – they can snap across, longwise, in multiple spots, or shatter into pieces. Most fractures occur when a bone experiences a greater force or pressure than it can handle.
- Spinal cord injury: Spinal cord injuries are serious and can lead to paralysis or disability. Treatment includes medication, surgery, mobility aids, and rehabilitation, but it’s both time-consuming and costly. If another party’s negligence caused your injury, you should receive compensation for your related expenses. A lawyer with experience in slip and fall cases can help lead the way.
- Bruise: Damaged blood vessels leak blood into the body. It causes a skin discoloration called a bruise or a contusion. Bruises happen when your body collides with something hard.
- Back injury: Back injuries are any damage done to the back from trauma.
Who Can You Hold Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident in Virginia?
In Virginia, slip and fall accidents often lead to personal injury claims.
Business owners must keep their property reasonably safe for customers and visitors. When they fail in this duty, you can hold them accountable for injuries you sustained on their premises. A slip and fall lawyer increases your chances of success.
The duties and responsibility for injuries from a slip and fall accident differ based on the type of visitor. Virginia acknowledges three kinds: licensees, invitees, and trespassers.
Invited licensees are social guests, like friends and family.
Uninvited licensees usually have implied permission to enter another person’s property. Property owners don’t have to warn uninvited licensees about known dangers but must take reasonable steps to remove known hazards from the property.
Uninvited licensees include delivery drivers, repair professionals, and utility workers. The main distinction between a licensee and an invitee is the absence of a business transaction.
Property owners welcome invitees for business purposes, such as diners in restaurants, shoppers at grocery stores, and clients at hair salons. Invitees also cover those visiting public areas like parks and libraries.
Property owners have the highest duty of care towards invitees, and any negligence can make them liable for accidents.
Virginia property owners must exercise ordinary care by keeping the premises safe and promptly removing hazards. They also must warn visitors about known or foreseeable unsafe conditions.
Virginia law has an exception for recreational property use, where landowners aren’t obligated to maintain a safe environment when permitting activities like hunting, fishing, camping, water sports, boating, hiking, and other outdoor recreation on their land.
People on someone else’s property without permission, implied or explicit, are trespassers. If a slip and fall accident injures them, a Virginia court might not find the property owner responsible for compensating them. It's against the law for property owners to intentionally harm a trespasser or set traps to harm them.
Duty of Care and Winter Weather Hazards
Property owners must take reasonable precautions to maintain the safety of spaces where public presence, especially customers, is likely. This duty encompasses periodic property inspections and timely snow and ice removal to minimize the risk of slips and injuries.
Failing to meet this legal obligation constitutes negligence.
Where Do Slips and Falls Happen?
An accident like this can happen anywhere there is snow or ice on a property, such as:
- Shopping centers
- Yard or garage sales
- Parking lots
- Grocery stores
- Sport arenas
- Hotels and resorts
- Theme parks
- College campuses, including UVA, VCU, and Virginia State
- Condo or apartment building common areas
No matter where the fall happened, you can get hurt.
If someone else’s negligence caused your slip and fall injuries, you deserve complete compensation for your damages. A skilled lawyer can ensure you get it.
How Do You Prove a Slip and Fall in Virginia?
Proving a slip and fall claim means demonstrating that the defendant had a duty, that they breached this duty and it resulted in damages, and that a clear link connects the breach to the damages. The difficulty of proving all these elements reinforces the need for a Virginia slip and fall lawyer.
Name the defendant
In a slip and fall case, to establish negligence you must first identify the individual or organization responsible for owning or managing the property where the accident occurred—a property owner, a business proprietor, landlord, or tenant.
Establish duty of care
You must prove that the defendant needed to maintain the property’s safety for visitors. In Virginia, property owners must exercise reasonable care in safeguarding visitors from harm. You’ll have to show they owned the property and bore responsibility for its upkeep.
Show breach of duty
You must show that the defendant failed to take sufficient action to keep their property safe. It might mean they didn’t clean up spills, repair broken tiles or stairs, or provide acceptable lighting.
You must show that the defendant’s negligence caused your slip and fall accident. This could include showing that the hazard that caused your accident was present for a long time, and the defendant failed to address it.
Demonstrate injuries and expenses
You must demonstrate that you suffered damage from your slip and fall accident. A lawyer can prove it by showing medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
You must gather evidence to support your claim to win a slip and fall accident case in Virginia. Photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, medical records, and other documentation can support your claim. Gather this evidence as soon as possible after the accident, as it may become harder to obtain later.
Statute of Limitations
Under Virginia law, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims related to slip and fall accidents is two years. A plaintiff must file their claim within two years of the accident. Failing to do so may result in the courts barring the case.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Slip and Fall Case in Virginia?
Virginia has laws governing slip and fall cases that other states don’t. Having a lawyer by your side helps make it easier to understand the laws and fight through the court’s red tape.
- Legal expertise: Slip and fall cases involve various statutes and legal principles. An experienced attorney understands the applicable laws and regulations, helping you navigate the legal intricacies of your case.
- Investigation: Lawyers can conduct thorough investigations to gather evidence that supports your claim. This may include obtaining security footage, witness statements, and expert testimonies to establish liability.
- Accurate valuation: Attorneys can help you assess the full scope of your damages, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, and future costs. They will recover fair compensation for your losses.
- Negotiation skills: Lawyers are skilled negotiators who can engage with insurance companies or opposing parties to secure a settlement in your best interest. They know how to leverage your case for maximum compensation.
- Litigation support: If you can’t reach a settlement, a lawyer can represent you in court, present a compelling case and advocate for your rights.
- Statute of limitations: An attorney can file your claim within the necessary timeframe.
- Avoiding mistakes: Legal professionals can avoid common pitfalls that might jeopardize your case, such as making statements that the insurance company could use against you.
- Reducing stress: Handling a slip and fall case can be emotionally taxing. Having a lawyer by your side relieves some of the stress associated with the legal process, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Hiring a lawyer for a slip and fall claim in Virginia can significantly improve your chances of success, ensure you receive fair compensation, and navigate the legal system with expertise and support.
Sustaining severe injuries in a slip and fall accident causes physical pain. It can lead to medical debt, lost income from missed work, and potential future expenses for those with catastrophic injuries.
After someone else injures you, contact Emroch & Kilduff at (804) 358-1568 for your free consultation. Our skilled premises liability accident attorneys can handle insurance company and defense legal team tactics, protecting your rights and building a strong case against the property owner responsible for your accident.
Our skilled injury attorneys can help you explore your options. Don’t hesitate to contact our offices in Richmond or Tappahannock for a consultation with our experienced slip and fall attorneys.