If you live in Pennsylvania, you know that ice and snow are common hazards for a good chunk of the year. You may also know that property owners generally have a duty to keep their property well-maintained and safe of obvious hazards that could put someone in danger.
But, there is also a “hills and ridges” rule that comes into play. Under state law, property owners can’t be held accountable for slips and falls due to snowy weather or icy conditions in uneven elevations unless they allowed the snow and ice and to accumulate in a way that is unreasonably dangerous. The property owner also has to be aware that the snow and ice is there, and have a reasonable time to clear the hazard when it does exist.
In practical terms, the hills and ridges doctrine acknowledges the fact that snow and ice are natural hazards, and it isn’t always possible to keep a parking lot or sidewalk free of them.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t sue when you slip in a parking lot or sidewalk on new snow or black ice after a sudden freezing rain. If the parking lot is in poor condition, with lots of pot holes and dim lighting, you could easily fall due to the pot holes alone whether the snow was there or not. Similarly, if a sidewalk is broken or very uneven, that is a slip-and-fall hazard during any season.
Slip-and-fall accidents can leave you with broken bones, a damaged spine, head injuries and other problems that could haunt you for a lifetime. Find out what your rights are to seek financial compensation. Don’t assume that you can’t pursue a claim just because it recently snowed where you fell.