For people who live in an area so used to wintry weather as Rhode Island, removing snow and ice from sidewalks, parking lots and outdoor stairs should be a routine matter.
However, many property owners in our state neglect this routine. Unfortunately, as a result of these property owners’ neglect, others can suffer serious injuries in slip and fall accidents.
When it comes to holding negligent property owners legally accountable for slip and fall accidents on snow and ice, Rhode Island follows what is called the “Connecticut Rule.”
Under this rule, a property owner has a legal duty to remove natural hazards from common areas on their property. However, the owner is given a “reasonable time” to do so. Barring unusual circumstances, this reasonable time includes waiting until the snowfall ends.
The rule applies to a wide variety of property owners, including those who own private residences, retail stores or restaurants. It even applies to state and local government entities.
It’s crucial for these property owners to live up to their duty. Falls, after all, are the leading cause of injuries requiring visits to hospital emergency rooms in the U.S.
Elderly Adults are At Risk in Snow and Ice Slip and Fall Accidents
Older adults face a unique risk of seriously injuring themselves when they slip, trip or fall due to snow and ice. Based on 2011 U.S. Census estimates, this means that this risk is faced by 147,200 Rhode Island residents or 14.7 percent of the state’s population.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if an older adult suffers a fracture of any kind, it was most likely in a fall. Additionally, more than 90 percent of hip fractures in older adults are caused by falls. When the fall leads to death, nearly half of those cases will involve some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI), the CDC indicates.
A 2010 study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society said that about 50 percent of falls among “community-dwelling older adults” occur outdoors. They include falls on:
- Sidewalks (23 percent)
- Yards or gardens (14 percent)
- Streets or curbs (14 percent)
- Outside stairs (13 percent)
- Parking lots (6 percent).
Clearly, ice or snow on sidewalks, stairs, parking lots, and other hard surfaces creates a hazard for anyone. However, based on this study, it’s easy to see that these hazards especially increase the likelihood of a slip and fall by an elderly pedestrian or customer.
Contact a Rhode Island Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one was injured because of a slip-and-fall accident on snow or ice, the Rhode Island slip and fall lawyers of Gemma Law Associates, Inc., can help you seek compensation for your medical expenses and other losses.