A Chicago winter means lots of snow and freezing rain. After a storm, everyone must walk carefully while outdoors to try to avoid slipping and falling. But the responsibility does not lie completely with potential slip-and-fall victims. Property owners have a legal duty to keep their sidewalks, parking lots and floors reasonably clear and dry.
What can happen when a business neglects winter weather
This legal duty applies to all property owners, but perhaps most importantly to businesses open to the general public. Shops, malls, restaurants, bars, hotels and so forth have many people walking on their premises daily. The risk of a bad outcome due to negligently maintained footpaths is especially high. A customer, employee or other legal visitor could easily slip and injure their head, neck, back, hip or other body part.
Most falls don’t cause more than bruises or temporary soreness. But some slip-and-fall accidents cause serious, long-term harm. A severe back or brain injury could force you out of work and take away your independence until you recover (if you ever do). Medical bills cost money, and with no money coming into the house, might be impossible to pay on your own.
That is why the legal duty to take reasonable steps to keep the premises safe, such as by plowing the parking lot and shoveling and salting the sidewalk after a snowstorm, is so important. After a business violates its duty of care and someone gets hurt as a result, the injured person has the right to sue the business for compensation. A successful claim can make you financially “whole” again after a major slip-and-fall accident.