Snow and ice create dangerous conditions in Idaho, but people still must travel, work, or run errands, among other things. Property and business owners typically owe a duty to clear pathways open to the public so that weather conditions do not create an unreasonable risk of harm. Likewise, homeowners or renters are also responsible to some extent to protect passersby or visitors.
At Hickey Law Firm, PLLC, our personal injury lawyer in Sandpoint handles these types of cases. Call us at (208) 810-4849 to schedule a consultation, and we will examine the facts and circumstances to determine whether you have the grounds for a personal injury claim.
Snow and Ice Accidents
Winter weather, particularly ice and snow, can create hazardous conditions that increase the risk of various accidents. Some of the most common types of accidents associated with ice and snow are listed below.
Slip and Fall Accidents
- Icy sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots can lead to slip and fall accidents.
- Accumulation of snow on walkways and entrances poses a slipping hazard.
- Reduced visibility and slippery road conditions caused by snow or ice contribute to car accidents.
- Thin layers of ice (i.e., black ice) on roadways can be nearly invisible, catching drivers off guard.
- Heavy snowfall can impede visibility and road clearance, leading to collisions.
- Icy sidewalks and crosswalks increase the risk of pedestrians slipping and falling.
- Reduced visibility due to snowfall can contribute to accidents involving pedestrians.
Accidents Involving Bicycles
- Icy or snow-covered bike lanes can pose risks to cyclists.
- Reduced traction on roads increases the likelihood of bicycle accidents.
Snow and Ice Falling Accidents
- Accumulated snow and ice on roofs and structures may fall, causing injury to individuals below.
Snow Removal Accidents
- Accidents involving snow removal equipment, such as snowplows and snow blowers.
- Injuries can occur if individuals slip and fall while attempting to clear snow and ice.
- Accumulation of heavy snow on roofs can lead to structural damage and collapses.
Accidents Involving Public Transportation
- Delays and accidents involving buses and trains due to snowy or icy conditions.
- Slip and fall accidents at public transportation stations and stops.
Snow Sport Injuries
- Injuries related to winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating.
- Accidents on slopes or at ice rinks due to icy conditions.
Falling Object Accidents
- Ice accumulating on trees and power lines may lead to falling branches or power lines.
- Falling icicles from buildings can pose a threat to pedestrians and vehicles.
- Employees may be at risk of slips and falls in parking lots and on company premises.
- Accidents related to snow removal efforts on commercial properties.
Power Outages and Accidents
- Power outages caused by ice accumulation on power lines.
- Accidents due to reduced visibility during power outages.
Frozen bodies of water can pose risks for accidents involving ice skating, ice fishing, or other winter activities.
School and Playground Accidents
- Slip and fall accidents on icy school grounds and playgrounds.
- Injuries during winter sports or play activities.
Snow and Ice Injuries in Idaho
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn people about how dangerous ice and snow are, especially for vulnerable people, like children and the elderly. According to CDC statistics, more than 17,000 people die annually just from slipping on ice alone. Accidents related to ice and snow, however, can cause many other types of injuries, too.
Some injuries specific to winter weather accidents include:
- Back and neck injuries, which are often caused when shoveling snow, and this could be at home or at work
- Heart attacks, which often occur also when shoveling or blowing snow
- Hypothermia, which occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees
- Frostbite, which results in numbness as well as permanent damage to the body when skin, nerves, and tissue freeze
- Carbon monoxide poisoning, also known as the "silent killer", which occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in your bloodstream – this happens in winter weather because fireplaces, furnaces, and kerosene heaters are used
Other types of injuries range from minor bruises to catastrophic injuries.
Premises Liability and Snow and Ice Accidents in Idaho
Under the principle of premises liability, a property owner or occupier has a responsibility to keep their property in a safe condition and warn visitors of potential hazards. In colder states, this concept often arises in the context of slip and fall accidents on snow or ice.
If a property owner fails to take reasonable steps to protect visitors from hazardous conditions caused by snow or ice, they may be liable for any injuries sustained as a result. What is considered reasonable will depend on the specific situation but may include treating walkways with salt and sand or clearing ice or snow within a reasonable time.
When an injured party (the plaintiff) sues a property owner, they may seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Who Is At Fault for Snow and Ice Accidents in Idaho?
Liability for snow and ice accidents varies between states. A property owner or occupier is not automatically liable for every slip and fall accident on their property as a result of winter weather conditions.
Whether a property owner owes a duty of care, and to what degree, may depend on factors including:
- the status of the injured person (were they a guest, invitee, or trespasser?)
- the type of property
- whether the area of the property was public or private
- the level of control the owner has over the property
In some situations, liability for a snow and ice accident might extend to a third party, such as a company contracted to plow the snow or a property management company.
Individuals must also exercise reasonable care in icy or snowy conditions. If the injured person acted negligently in this respect, the property owner may allege contributory negligence.
Contact a Premises Liability Attorney for Snow and Ice Accidents in Sandpoint Today
Strict time limits apply to file a personal injury claim. If you have been injured as a result of a slip or fall accident on snow or ice in Idaho, you should speak to a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after seeking medical attention.
The law around liability for snow, ice, and ski hill accidents can be complex and varies depending on the specific circumstances of a case. An attorney can review your case and advise you whether you have a basis for a personal injury case and the damages you may be entitled to claim. If you've been injured on a ski hill or after a slip or fall on snow or ice, contact Hickey Law Firm, PLLC today at (208) 810-4849 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in recovering.