If you find yourself enduring the wintery conditions of snow and icy roads, you can be sure that slip and fall cases as a result of these conditions are a norm in your region. These cases brought against you and your company can mean costly legal fees, time away from work, or unfortunately hefty compensations for damages when liability is proven. To demonstrate proof of liability of the defendant in these cases often requires a high level of attention to detail and diligence in preliminary investigations. Consult a snow and ice expert witness to evaluate the legitimacy of a defendant’s claim.
As a landowner, it is important to be aware of the things that are expected and required of you when it comes to liability for what happens on your property. Here are a few basic principles to prepare for that apply when attempting to establish liability.
The Premise of a Liability Case:
The first basic requirement for liability is that the plaintiff was lawfully present on the property of the defendant. If, for example, the plaintiff were trespassing on private property at the time of the accident, he would have no basis on which to build a case. The second basic principle requires that the defendant either caused the unsafe condition encountered, or due to the defendant’s negligence, failed to properly deal with the unsafe conditions on his property. Negligence implies that one was aware or should have been aware of the condition yet failed to take reasonable care in response to the issue. Establishing proof that the defendant had actual or constructive notice proves sufficient awareness of the dangerous conditions. Negligence could constitute that the defendant worsened the condition, took no action, or gave no warning of the dangerous condition. Lastly, injury as a result of the defendant’s negligence must have occurred. Ask a snow expert about the measures you should take to prevent being liable for negligence on your property.
Actual or Constructive Notice:
Generally speaking, when a dangerous condition is created by inclement weather, actual or constructive notice of the condition must be given, and within a reasonable time frame after this notice, the condition must be sufficiently addressed. Establishing proof of departure from this expectation is often a potentially difficult element to a plaintiff’s slip and fall case. A snow expert can help you find the right course of action for your property in the instance of inclement weather conditions.
When an unsafe condition presents itself and the principle owner of the land on which it occurs is directly informed, this constitutes actual notice. Actual notice can be provided in written form or verbally. When actual notice is clearly provided, the duty to address the unsafe condition is activated.
The alternative to receiving actual notice is to receive constructive notice. This is when the landowner either created the condition himself, or it has existed for a sufficient amount of time to be able to reasonably expect the landowner should know about it, and consequently to take the appropriate actions to deal with said conditions. In cases related to snow and ice conditions, constructive notice may raise question as to the amount of time the condition has been present, the actual weather that may have caused the condition, and if the weather itself may be sufficient alone to constitute constructive notice to a landowner.