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Businesses not cited for failure to remove ice and snow

The nation was struck by the so-called Polar Vortex at the beginning of the year, causing blustery, frigid weather throughout Illinois and other states. With this type of unusual weather event comes the increased risk of slip-and-fall injuries caused by improperly cleared sidewalks and other walkways. Did you know, however, that many Illinois businesses are not required to clear the sidewalks in front of their businesses? In fact, according to many experts, slip-and-fall accidents might actually decrease if business owners would simply leave the snow as-is, as that material is far safer than the slippery ice beneath.

Further, Illinois property owners cannot be held liable for removing any natural accumulation of snow and ice - state law says so. Further, property owners may not be successfully sued for slip-and-fall accidents resulting from a buildup of snow and ice on the public sidewalk. Only if the business owner has allowed for an "unnatural" or negligent disturbance of the snow will a personal injury suit be justified.

Even though business owners may not be bothered by the existing regulations, lawmakers throughout the region say they are troubled by the fact that the municipalities in Illinois are held responsible for public sidewalks. In fact, several jurisdictions are making moves to adopt ordinances that would require businesses to keep the walkways near their buildings clear. These ordinances might actually help business owners by reducing the likelihood of frivolous lawsuits, according to political leaders.

Victims of slip-and-fall accidents may be able to recover financial damages from businesses if such ordinances are approved throughout the state. Slippery walkways are indeed a dangerous property condition that can lead to serious injury for customers and property owners alike. Illinois residents who have suffered physical injury because of slip-and-fall accidents may benefit from consulting a qualified personal injury attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal and financial options.

Source: Quincy Herald-Whig, "Keeping sidewalks clean can be a slippery situation" Don O'Brien, Jan. 03, 2014

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