In the District of Columbia, Maryland or Virginia, if you are injured on someone else’s property in a slip-and-fall incident that involves snow and ice, immediately schedule a free case evaluation with a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawyer.
The winters in and around the nation’s capital create slippery parking lots and sidewalks where serious slip-and-fall injuries may occur. If you become injured because of a property owner’s failure to clean up ice and snow on his or her property, what measures should you take?
If you are injured on a rental property, which party is liable for your injury – the tenant or the landlord? Keep reading this brief discussion to learn the answers about ice and snow-related injuries, liability, and your legal rights as an injured victim of someone else’s negligence.
Who is Responsible to Clean Up Ice and Snow?
If you own a rental property in the Washington, D.C. area, when you prepare a lease, that lease may spell out who has the responsibility for removing ice and snow accumulations. Typically, it depends on the type of rental property you’ve purchased.
If it’s a single-family home, it is usually the tenant’s obligation to remove snow and ice. Landlords, however, have the final legal responsibility for making sure that snow and ice are removed efficiently and promptly from any properties that they own.
How Can Landlords Ensure That Snow Gets Removed?
In the District of Columbia, the law requires property owners to take reasonable steps to keep tenants, guests, and visitors safe. Some landlords provide incentives to tenants – such as lower rent in the winter months, for example – in return for snow and ice removal.
Provided that the snow and ice gets removed, landlords and tenants can make any arrangement that’s legal. Before a landlord makes an arrangement with a tenant, the landlord should determine if the tenant is in fact capable of removing snow and ice when the time comes.
For tenants who are elderly or disabled, landlords and tenants will need to work together to find another way to remove ice and snow accumulations – for example, contracting with a commercial ice and snow removal service.
What About Other Rental Properties?
When a rental property is not a single-family dwelling, a landlord usually has more responsibility for keeping walkways and pathways clear of ice and snow. Many landlords who own apartment buildings, for instance, contract directly with a commercial ice and snow removal service.
A property owner cannot wait until winter arrives to arrange for the removal of snow and ice. If a landlord chooses a commercial ice and snow removal service, the landlord must make certain that the company is dependable and that the job gets done properly.
What Does the District of Columbia Require?
The law in the District of Columbia requires residents and commercial property owners to remove snow and ice from the paved sidewalks, curb cuts, and curb ramps that abut their properties within 24 hours of a snowstorm’s end so that pedestrians may walk safely.
If you own residential property in the District, you may be exempt from the sidewalk and curb clearing requirement if you live in your own home and if you are at least 65 years old and/or disabled, but you must apply to the D.C. Department of Public Works for the exemption.
What Can Happen if Snow Isn’t Removed?
Slip-and-fall injuries on snow and ice trigger premises liability lawsuits and account for millions of dollars in payouts every year. If you are injured on snow and ice, you could suffer sprains, broken bones, and brain, back, neck, and/or spinal cord injuries.
The central question in premises liability cases involving ice and snow is whether the property’s owner had notice of the dangerous condition and a “reasonable” amount of time to remove the snow and ice, although weather conditions and the property’s condition when the injury occurred may also be considered.
When a snow-and-ice injury causes a permanent disability, the injury victim will require the maximum amount of compensation that’s available to pay for life-long care, childcare arrangements, travel to medical facilities, and other, unanticipated expenses.
How Can You Prevail With a Premises Liability Claim?
Sustaining an injury, by itself, is not enough to win your premises liability claim. In order to be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages, your Washington, D.C. premises liability attorney may have to prove that the property owner:
- knew or should have known that hazardous ice and snow accumulated
- did not remove the ice and snow despite having a reasonable period of time to do so
- failed to provide a warning of a dangerous condition
Your lawyer also must prove that the accumulated ice and snow was a direct cause of your injury. Your lawyer may have a medical expert testify or provide a statement that supports your claim.
How Soon Should You Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer?
If you reside in the District or visit in the winters, it’s important to realize that snow significantly increases the risk of accidents and injuries. If you’re in a slip-and-fall accident on accumulated snow and ice, discuss your options right away with a Washington, D.C. premises liability lawyer.
Summon or seek medical help immediately when a slip-and-fall injury happens. After a medical provider examines and treats you, arrange at once to speak with a lawyer. Your lawyer needs to examine evidence before it deteriorates and speak with witnesses before recollections fade.
In Washington, D.C. and Maryland, the statute of limitations for filing premises liability claims is three years from the date of the injury. In Virginia, it is two years from the date of injury. However, you should arrange to speak with a Washington, D.C. premises liability attorney immediately after your injury.
What Does Justice Cost?
If you’re injured in a slip-and-fall incident in or near the nation’s capital, it costs you nothing to learn more about the law and more about your rights. The legal process begins with a free case evaluation that is offered with no obligation.
Should you and your lawyer proceed with legal action, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee until and unless you are compensated. Premises liability attorneys represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so if you’re not compensated at the end of the process, you’ll owe no fee to your lawyer.
Compensation is your legal right if you become injured because someone else was negligent. Having good legal representation is also your right. If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, and if your lawyer proves it, you’ll recover the compensation you need.