Can a Property Owner Be Held Liable for a Fall Caused by Snow or Ice in Minnesota?

walking while shoveling snowOne of the most common reasons for a slip and fall accident is a slippery or wet surface.  In the late fall and winter months in a state like Minnesota, snow or icy conditions can cause many people to slip and fall.

While many people brush off slip and fall accidents as no big deal, the truth is serious injuries often result from these situations.  Victims may be able to seek compensation if they were on another’s property – the property owner may have been required by law to remove the snow or ice.

However, liability for a fall caused by snow or ice can be a complex issue.  That is why you should strongly consider seeking legal help.  You do not want to talk to just any attorney, you need an experienced lawyer with a track record of recovering compensation for injury victims in Minnesota.

TSR Injury Law has recovered millions on behalf of our clients and there is no obligation to take legal action after meeting with us.

What Does the Law Say About Removing Snow and Ice?

The state of Minnesota does not have any laws requiring municipalities to create or enforce policies on removing snow from sidewalks.  However, most municipalities do have ordinances on this issue.

For example, Chapter 445 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances deals with this issue.  The code says property owners of any buildings that border, abut or adjoin any street must remove snow or ice within fours of daylight after snow stops falling.  A property owner is anyone having custody, care or control of any building. Daytime hours are between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

This part of the code excludes those who own one or two-family dwellings.  However, owners of these properties must remove snow from a public sidewalk that abuts or adjoins their lot within 24 hours of snowfall ending.  If they are unable to remove any snow, they must sprinkle sand on the sidewalk.

Business owners must keep driveways leading into their businesses clear of snow, ice or other debris.  This part of the law applies to anyone carrying on a business, profession, vocation, parking lot, or other service the city requires a license or permit from the city, provided they are operating next to a public street or boulevard.  Those who fail to comply could have their business license or permit revoked by the city.

Failing to comply with the requirements of the code is a petty misdemeanor.  Every hour past the four-hour window to remove snow or ice, or past the 24-hour window for one or two-family dwellings, is a separate violation of the code.

Establishing Liability for Your Injuries

A violation of local law on removing snow or ice may be considered a breach of the property owner’s duty of care.  In a personal injury claim, the victim must prove the at-fault party breached a duty of care and link that breach to the injury suffered.  A duty of care is an obligation to take reasonable care to help prevent others from suffering harm.

However, how do you prove the property owner exceeded the four-hour time limit for removing snow? How do you establish when snow stopped falling?

You can be sure the property owner and his or her attorney or insurance company will look for any argument to use against you to avoid responsibility for the accident.

That is why it is so important to document the accident by filing an accident report. Make sure to note the time in the report.  You should also seek immediate treatment, as this will help link your injury to the accident.  After that, contact an attorney right away.  Another important piece of evidence are photos.  It is not always possible to take photos right away, but if you can, do it.  It is often the best evidence of the timing and condition of the fall down area at the time of the fall.  Even a few hours later may have changed the condition.

The attorneys at our firm have extensive knowledge of local laws on removing snow and ice and how they may apply to a personal injury claim.  These cases are often difficult to prove, which is why you should strongly consider seeking experienced legal representation.

One factor that may play a role in your claim is whether the danger presented by the snow or ice was reasonable or unreasonable.  Sometimes people should know to avoid certain things because they are obviously very dangerous.  The at-fault party may try to use this defense against you.  For example, if you walked onto the property and the owner was in the process of clearing snow and ice, and you continued walking into a dangerous area, you may have trouble building a case against the property owner.

Injured in a Slip and Fall? Schedule a Free Consultation

Even though snow and cold weather are features of living in Minnesota, we should all be careful to avoid injuries caused by these conditions.  If you think a walkway is too slippery or might cause you trouble, maybe you should avoid it.

However, no matter how safe you try to be, an accident could still happen.  If it does, our Minneapolis slip and fall lawyers are ready to help you.  Schedule your free consultation today to learn more about our services and the benefits of having qualified legal representation.

TSR Injury Law. No Upfront Fees.  Call (612) TSR-TIME.