The winter months are fraught with injury risks, and many residents of Chicago do their best to prepare for the dangers of snow and ice. Damp, slippery conditions can lead to injury, and many injured parties and property owners are not aware of the Illinois laws that outline their rights and responsibilities. The law differs when it relates to commercial and residential property owners and establishing a viable injury case is not always a easy or clear-cut process.
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Though the assumption is often different, commercial properties in Illinois are not required by law to remove snow or ice, so many property owners are not liable for slip and fall injuries due to winter weather. Things get more complicated with a property owner aggravates a natural condition. In other words, if a commercial property owner plays a part in making snow or ice more dangerous, they could be found at fault for an injury.
Unfortunately for injured parties, establishing that a winter injury was actually the result of a natural condition being aggravated can be difficult to prove. In order to determine potential liability, attorneys consider:
- The weather and precipitation level at the time of the injury
- The presence of snow piles or salt on the ground
- The proximity to a building
- The slope of the surface where a fall occurred
- The levelness of sidewalks and paths
- The lighting levels
Illinois law differs for owners of residential properties. While residential property owners are not required to remove natural accumulations of snow or ice, they do not face the same consequences as commercial properties who aggravate a natural condition.
According to the Illinois Snow & Ice Removal Act, and owner, lessor, occupant or manager of a residential property will not be held liable if they remove snow or ice from the sidewalks abutting their property, unless the alleged misconduct was willful or wanton.
Slips, falls and other accidents due to slippery winter ground are an unfortunate side effect of blustery weather. The next step after a winter injury depends on the location, nature of and reason for the accident.
When an individual has been injured due to winter weather conditions in Chicago, liability is not always easily determined. An Illinois injury attorney can help with interpretation of the law and determining if enough evidence exists to successfully prove a case.