While slip-and-fall, or slip-and-crash, accidents immediately come to mind as common winter hazards, falling ice and snow from roofs can also cause serious injury to the unsuspecting traveler. Serious head, neck and back injuries, including severe concussions, can result from a snowpack sliding off a steep roof and onto a passerby. Along with the possibility of a concussion and neck injuries, if the passerby is knocked off his or her feet there might also be the typical injuries of a slip-and-fall accident.
In general, the responsibility for keeping roofs reasonably clear, or marking off potential “falling ice” areas as a warning to pedestrians, falls to the party also responsible for clearing walkways and driveways of snow. Homeowners bear full responsibility and liability, as do people renting houses or other single-family options. For triple-deckers and larger multi-family units, the responsibility falls to the landlord. The same general principles apply to a business—a freestanding business takes responsibility for property maintenance, while one inside a strip mall or shopping center passes that responsibility onto the property owner or manager.
Unfortunately, not all business owners or landlords take care of this winter maintenance task. As a result, pedestrians, tenants, and customers are unknowingly put at risk, with serious injuries resulting. In a worst-case scenario, a landlord or business owner’s refusal to remove snow and ice from above can lead to long term injuries and even death.
If you have been injured by falling ice as the result of someone else’s negligence, call our office today to discuss your case and learn your options.