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Can I Sue if I Slip and Fall on Ice?

October 10, 2023Premises Liability

A slip and fall accident can have devastating consequences; common injuries suffered range from broken bones and hip fractures to traumatic brain injuries. If you slip, fall and get injured due to a patch of ice on someone else’s property in Colorado, you may be able to recover financial compensation from the property owner’s insurance company. The presence of negligence in a fall accident involving ice could give rise to a premises liability lawsuit.

What Was Your Classification as a Visitor?

First, confirm that your classification as a visitor entitled you to expect a reasonably safe premises at the time of your slip and fall accident. Certain classifications give the owner of a property a duty of care to prevent visitor accidents and injuries, including those involving ice and snow. Property owners in Colorado have different duties of care, or legal obligations, regarding the safety of their premises based on the type of visitor:

  • Invitee: someone with express or implied permission to enter a property for a purpose that benefits the owner, such as customers at a business.
  • Licensee: someone with the owner’s permission to enter the property but not necessarily for a mutual benefit, such as a salesperson or social guest.
  • Trespasser: someone who does not legally have permission or authority to enter or stay on a premises.

Property owners owe the highest duties of care to invitees. They must inspect their properties for dangerous conditions (including an accumulation of ice on stairways or walkways), warn visitors of potential hazards, and remedy injury risks in a timely manner. Licensees are owed a slightly lesser duty of care; the duty to inspect for unknown hazards does not apply. Trespassers, while they cannot be willfully injured, are not owed any duties of care by a property owner.

Was the Property Owner Aware of the Ice?

Determine if the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the ice. A property owner cannot be expected to remove ice that he or she reasonably could not have known about; for example, if the ice was newly formed just minutes before the victim’s slip and fall accident. It must be shown that the property owner knew about the ice or should have known about it through reasonable inspection or maintenance of the property.

Did the Property Owner Take Reasonable Steps to Address the Dangerous Condition? 

If the owner of the property had reason to know about a patch of ice on the premises, he or she had a legal obligation to protect visitors from potential slip and fall accidents. Property owners, including both residential and commercial building owners, are required to take reasonable steps to address icy conditions. This may include keeping up with weather forecasts, taking preventive measures to stop the formation of ice (such as salting or sanding the ground), and shoveling snow before it can melt and turn into ice. If ice has already formed on a property, the owner should put up warning signs to help prevent slip and fall accidents.

Did You Suffer Actual Harm as a Result of Your Slip and Fall Accident?

Finally, you or your Denver slip and fall attorney must establish actual, compensable losses that were suffered in the ice-related accident. Proof of your injuries may include medical records, hospital or chiropractic bills, proof of lost wages from missing time at work, and an injury journal documenting your pain and suffering. Your lawyer must also establish causation, or a direct link between your injuries and the property owner’s carelessness.

If there is evidence that a property owner reasonably should have done more to prevent or remove the ice that caused your harmful slip and fall accident in Colorado, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Discuss a potential claim with the attorneys at Dormer Harpring, LLC for more information. Request a free consultation today.