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Non-delegable Duties in Snow and Ice Cases

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question involves a caller who recently asked, “my son went to a big box lumber store and fell on hidden ice while walking from his car. There was an outside contractor pushing snow and applying salt. The contractor missed applying salt where my son was walking. He has a serious injury; what are his options?.”

As we have noted on our website and in blog posts, an attorney’s job is to help the injury victim find as many sources of recovery as possible for the harm they have suffered.

In the caller’s scenario, the attorney will focus on the store owner’s liability and any snow removal contractor or subcontractors who may have contributed to causing the condition, which resulted in injury.

Typically, the property owner will require a snow removal contractor to assume responsibility for injuries caused by poor or shoddy work. But just because the contractor may be liable, does that mean the property owner is off the hook legally?

There may be solid legal grounds to hold the property owner liable for an independent contractor’s negligence. Perhaps the property owner failed to do due diligence and never checked the qualifications of the snow removal company?

What if the property owner has employees shovel snow and apply salt in some areas of the property. But, also hires a contractor to address snow and apply salt to the same areas of the property? There could be factual issues as to overlapping liability. In other words, the contractor and property owner may both be liable for a breach of a duty of care owed to the customer invitee walking on the property.

Also, there are circumstances where the law says that a property owner cannot delegate the duty of safety to another party.

The best option is to sue the property owner, the snow and ice removal company, and any property management company in snow and ice removal cases. Let the court sort out if one or more of these parties are legally responsible. The injured party is frequently entitled to claim third-party beneficiary status as to any of the contracts involved.

Consulting an experienced attorney is critical in such cases.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.