Injuries From Slip & Falls: Relief Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation & Common Law Negligence
As another Illinois winter is underway, it’s time to address your rights in the event you are injured from a slip and fall on ice and snow.
Workers’ Compensation Act
It is well established in Illinois that parking lots that are owned, controlled or designated by the employer for use by its employees are considered to be an integral part of the employer’s premises. Injuries that occur in parking lots owned, controlled or designated by the employer for use by its employees have satisfied the first of two requirements determining compensability. The injury must occur within a reasonable time before or after the actual employment duties. The extension of the employment relationship for entry upon and departure from the workplace, and the resultant liability of the employer, are predicated upon the obvious fact that the term “employment” means more than time spent at one’s workstation.
After having determined ownership and control by the employer to park there, an employee must then prove that some condition of the parking lot increased the risk of accident and caused the injury to occur. Usually, this involves ice, snow or some ‘defect’ in the parking lot such as a pothole or crack in the pavement, which causes injury to the employee.
Common Law Negligence
When a slip and fall occurs on land not owned by your employer, your avenue of relief would be under common law negligence. Generally, in order for a property owner or the occupier of land to be held liable for a slip and fall on snow and ice, the owner must be shown to have in some way either; (a) caused an unnatural accumulation of ice and snow, or (b) to have aggravated a natural condition.
This means that a property owner has no duty to remove any natural accumulations of ice and snow from their property. Unfortunately, if you are injured on ice and snow that is due from such a natural accumulation, the Illinois courts have indicated that a property owner is not liable for any injuries you might sustain.
The bottom line is BE CAREFUL! In most cases Illinois courts will not punish property owners for failing to remove snow but they may hold a property owner liable for negligently removing ice and snow. If you do have an accident, look for an unnatural snow mound and take pictures of the area immediately.
There are also times when a snow removal contractor has a contractual obligation to remove snow and that too can be a basis on which liability can be assessed, if that removal is done negligently. Please be sure to contact our office if you have had an injury caused by ice and snow and we will gladly guide you through this difficult process.
If you have any questions regarding personal injury or workers’ compensation law please do not hesitate to contact Ridge & Downes at (800) 572-1136.