Winter has arrived early for us here in Western Kentucky. That means icy roads, parking lots and sidewalks. Inevitably, this also means more accidents and injuries. Here are some tips and observations I would like to share as an attorney who has handled many ice-related injury cases.
1. SLOW IT DOWN! It seems obvious. When the roads are icy, you need to take it easy. It never ceases to amaze me how some people think that they can drive a normal speed on slick roads. People with 4 wheel drive seem especially overconfident. As the owner of a 4 wheel drive pickup, I can tell you that 4 wheel drive does not keep you from sliding. Once you hit a slick patch on the road, especially on a curve, it is too late to slow down. Most of the snow-related car accident cases I have been involved with would have been avoided if the driver had just slowed down. So be safe out there!
2. WATCH YOUR STEP! Every winter, I get lots of calls from people who have fallen on ice. Maybe it was the parking lot at Wal-mart. It could have been the sidewalk at Walgreens. Business owners do have a duty to take reasonable actions to keep their premises safe. That usually includes scraping and salting sidewalks, but it does not usually include the same for large parking lots. In really nasty conditions, it is sometimes impossible for businesses to clear all snow and ice even from sidewalks. Most of the time, when people fall on ice, there is not a strong case unless the owner of the premises took little to no action within a reasonable period of time to remove snow or ice from highly-traveled areas. Also, most of the time, if the icy and snowy condition was “open and obvious” to you, it is difficult to establish a case in your favor. So watch your step and be careful out there!