Ice From Melted Snow Piles Cause Slip, Fall And Landowner Liability

The Illinois Court of Appeals released a ruling that highlights the liability of landowners for snow removal. The case involved a woman who slipped and fell on ice resulting from melting snow pushed by snowplows from the parking lot against the building.

In Illinois, a landowner traditionally has no liability for naturally occurring accumulations of snow. In order for someone injured by slipping on snow or ice, they need to show the landowner created an "unnatural accumulation" by negligently moving the snow and ice.

Premises Liability

To be successful in a case of negligent snow removal, one has to show that the defendant:

  • owed a duty
  • breached that duty
  • the breach proximately caused the injuries

Duty of the Landowner

For there to be liability, there must first be a duty. When a landowner clears snow and ice, they have a duty to exercise "ordinary care." If a building owner has the responsibility to clear snow and ice from their building parking lots, they must do so in a way that does not create dangerous unnatural accumulations of snow and ice.

Melting Snow Piles and Legal Liability

On this property, the snow removal service plowed the snow into large piles against one side of a building. During the day, the sun would melt the snow, causing water to run into the parking lot. The pedestrian injured in this case slipped on the ice that formed from the melting snow when the water refroze.

The landowner was on notice of the problem, as one witness testified that he had complained of the danger posed by the piles of snow during the previous winter.

The Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court. Much of the discussion was procedural, involving the basis for dismissing a case. Here, the court found the plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence to allow a jury to find that the landowner had negligently allowed ice to unnaturally accumulate, causing her injury.

If you have been injured due to slipping and falling on an accumulation of snow and ice, speak to a personal injury attorney knowledgeable in premises liability matters. An attorney can discuss the circumstances of your fall and help you hold the responsibility party accountable for your injuries.