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I fell on the ice, what are my legal options?

I’m Katelyn 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 comes from a person who recently called us saying, “Last February I was walking with my wife into a big box store when I hit some ice and came down destroying my knee, what are my chances at trial?”

This is a great question. We live in a geographic location where snow and ice accumulation is a routine occurrence. Countless times when we have sued in such cases the defense team shouts out “the condition was open and obvious and we have no duty to protect against such conditions.”

You might be thinking is that a legitimate defense? It can be, depending on the conditions and the situation. But, there are some countervailing points of law on the side of the person who falls on ice in such situations.

What if the property owner puts out salt and cleared off snow on all walkways, but missed the spot right where the person loses their footing and falls?

In such a case the open and obvious conclusion the pedestrian would have reasonably drawn would have been that the walkways are clear and safe. Which makes the hidden danger of the missed spot extremely dangerous.

But, the counter you will hear from the defense team is we don’t have to be perfect, we just have to use reasonable care. Which of course is true for both parties. Both parties are to use reasonable care.

See how trials can be anything but simple?

But, what if the injury occurs on a sidewalk leading to the entrance of the store where there is a downspout, and there was no snow the day of the fall, and water from that downspout formed a layer of ice on the sidewalk, and the property owner knew this was likely to happen, and did routinely happen all winter? What if the employee witnesses admit that they knew ice could form in this area of the sidewalk, that they should be inspecting every couple of hours, or putting out a sign warning people away from the danger.

Add some more facts. What if video surveillance from the day of the fall shows dozens of other customers seeing the ice and walking around it, and the fall victim looking over at a car entering the parking lot and missing seeing the ice?

When you look close at the video surveillance and add that to the special knowledge of the business that knows or should know about the ice, isn’t it reasonable for a jury watching those video clips to conclude that “it was just a matter of time before someone unsuspecting was going to get injured?”

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”.