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Is It Snowing?

Edward Alan Williams Attorney at Law April 1, 2023

Snow and ice present dangerous conditions for pedestrians. Many people are injured when they slip and fall on a snowy or icy patch of pavement. Often times this happens in the parking lot of a store, or on a sidewalk leading up to a neighbor’s house. When a fall happens, and injuries result, it is not uncommon for the injured party to look to the property owner for damages. Pedestrians would expect that the surface on which they are walking is free from dangerous conditions such as snow and ice. The property owner may be a neighbor or it may be the corner grocery store. Whatever the case, property owners, and lessees, carry liability insurance in the event that someone is injured on their property. In the case of the corner grocery store, multiple parties may be involved. It might be the owner of the property, the lessee that rents space, or a company contracted to remove the snow and ice.

We have successfully handled a number of cases involving slip and falls on slippery, icy surfaces. Property owners need to be held responsible for the proper maintenance of their property and surrounding areas, including parking lots and sidewalks. Ice, black ice, and snow present very hazardous conditions for pedestrians and slip and fall injuries often times result in significant injuries such as broken bones or tendon and ligament tears.

What happens, however, when someone slips and falls on a surface while it is still snowing? Many people would presume that the surface should be clear regardless of the weather conditions at the time. This assumption is not correct. A recent case out of the St. Louis area favored the defendant in a personal injury case relating to snow and ice. The case involved a man that slipped and fell on snow and ice while precipitation was still falling. The jury concluded that the property owner was not liable for injuries while it was presently snowing or sleeting.

We have two current cases involving injuries to clients that slipped and fell on accumulated snow and ice, but not while precipitation was currently falling. This is an important distinction to make and when evaluating a claim, one should check weather reports and get witness statements to determine whether snow and ice were actually falling at the time.

Missouri law is clear that there is no duty to remove snow and ice that is actually falling at the time.