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Liability for a Wintertime Slip and Fall

Posted By William Breit
Liability for a Wintertime Slip and Fall

While Virginia Beach may not see as much snow and ice in comparison to other parts of the country during the wintertime, snow does fall in the city, and snow accumulations in other parts of our state can be much greater. While snow may be beautiful, it can also create a hazard - snow and ice create dangerous conditions for driving, as well as slippery conditions for walking. Which raises the question: if a person slips and falls on snow or ice that’s accumulated on a property and is injured, who’s liable for their damages?

At the offices of Breit Law PC, our wintertime slip and fall lawyers can assist you if you have been injured in a slip and fall accident in our state and have questions about your rights and liability. Please reach us today by phone or online to get started.

Duty to Remove Snow and Ice

In Virginia, there is no state-wide mandate regarding the removal of snow and ice. While property owners are indeed responsible for snow and ice removal, nothing in Virginia statute specifies when that removal is to occur. Instead, many municipalities have passed ordinances governing snow and ice removal. For example, in Alexandria, residents have between 24 and 72 hours to remove snow; in Charlottesville, snow must be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours of falling; and in the City of Richmond, sidewalks and public walkways must be cleared within six hours after the snow stops falling, or by 11 a.m. in the event that snow accumulation is overnight. In Virginia Beach, where our law office is located, the ordinance states that snow must be removed within six hours of when it is “reasonable” to begin snow removal. 

But it’s not just about what the statute says. While a property owner may be in breach of a statute if they fail to remove snow and ice within the specified amount of time, and may be guilty of negligence per se as such, property owners have certain duties and responsibilities to those who enter their properties. 

Duties of Property Owners to Others

The duty that a property owner owes to someone who enters their property lawfully is the duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and to remedy any known hazards within a reasonable amount of time. (Note: this duty only extends to invitees in Virginia, which includes any visitors to properties that are open to the public, such as a grocery or retail store; trespassers are not protected.) If a person slips, trips, or falls as a result of a hazardous condition on the property--be it snow and ice or another hazard--the property owner can be held liable for any damages that result if the injured party can prove that:

  • The property owner knew or should have known of the hazardous condition; and
  • The property owner failed to remedy the condition within a reasonable amount of time.

Our lawyers can help you to prove the negligence and liability of the property owner by gathering evidence, including eyewitness testimony detailing how your slip and fall occurred, video footage of the accident if it exists, proof of snowfall (if relevant), and more. 

Damages Recoverable in a Slip and Fall Claim

If you are injured in a wintertime slip and fall and can prove that the property owner where the accident occurred breached the duty of care owed to you, you can hold the property owner liable for your harm. By filing a claim against the property owner--which will typically actually be a claim against the owner’s liability insurance--you can seek damages for the full extent of your economic and non-economic losses, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Statute of Limitations in Slip and Fall Claims

If you are injured in a wintertime slip and fall accident, it’s very important that you meet with an attorney and begin the process of building your claim as soon as possible. By delaying to take action, you risk the destruction of evidence that is essential to your case. You also risk breaching the statute of limitations, which is the legal limit on the amount of time that you have to file a personal injury case. In Virginia, the personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date of injury. If you wait longer than two years, then you can’t file a lawsuit.

Reach Our Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you have been injured in a wintertime slip and fall or another accident type, our Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys at the office of Breit Law PC want to help you. Please reach out to our lawyers directly today by phone or online to tell us more about your case and request a free case consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis. 

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About the Author:

William Breit

Attorney William Breit takes the time and effort to understand your personal injury case, and strategize for the best outcome. William Breit is a distinguished trial lawyer who has been at the forefront of major personal injury cases in Hampton Roads, Virginia for over 36 years. Our practice areas include personal injury, medical malpractice, auto accidents, brain injury, wrongful death etc.... View full business profile here: William Breit