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Recent Snowstorm Presents Safety Hazards, Serious Injuries and Lawsuits for Some

February 20, 2019 • by James Lambka

The recent snowstorm in the Puget Sound area has brought with it snow days, as well as risk of serious injuries and safety hazards. What’s more, you have to take extra precaution if you’re a property owner in maintaining a safe-to-walk property.

While talking to KOMO News’ Elise Jaffe, personal injury attorney Chris Davis brought attention to the personal injury lawsuits that some building managers were facing in light of the recent snowstorm. One such case involves a building manager who forgot to de-ice the building’s parking lot.

As a result, a lady who had parked her car in the building’s parking lot slipped on the black ice and severely fractured her hip. The lady had to undergo emergency surgery to repair her hip and the injuries are so severe that she could be looking at a hip replacement in the future.

As a building manager or property owner, it is your responsibility and legal obligation to make sure that your property is safe in snowy and icy conditions. If you fail to take the necessary precautions (de-icing, shoveling and so on), you could be facing a serious personal injury lawsuit. Land and property owners are expected to anticipate the risk of injury that snowy and icy conditions pose, and to ensure the prevention of slipping accidents.

Property owners are even responsible for ensuring that the sidewalk is safe from tripping and slipping hazards, snow and ice included.

And it isn’t just land or property owners who should be particularly alert during icy conditions. People who choose to drive in such conditions should take extra steps to ensure the safety of pedestrians. These steps include driving at a reduced pace, breaking earlier and taking turns slowly. The condition of the vehicle is also important – winter tyres, defrosted windshields and fully functioning headlights and tail lights. Failure to take these steps can result in severe accidents, even at the slow pace cars tend to move in snowy conditions.

A case brought to light by personal injury attorney Chris Davis involves a car hitting a 70-year-old man because of the driver’s poor visibility. The driver of the car had not defrosted the entire windshield. Rather, he scraped a small part on the driver’s side through which he thought he could safely drive the vehicle. Sure enough, he was not able to see as well as he could have – had the windshield been fully defrosted.

As a result, he could not see the 70-year-old man exiting a parked vehicle. The victim in this case was thrown over the hood of the car, and suffered severe injuries. The accident could have been prevented had the driver fully scraped the windshield of his car. The driver of the vehicle was cited by the Seattle Police for reckless driving.

Other common law suits in inclement weather involve car accidents due to driving in the snow. Drivers in these cases are mislead into thinking that accidents ‘just occur’ as a result of snow. However the law says that in these condition drivers need to take extra precautions such as driving and taking turns slowly. Causing an accident in inclement weather conditions will likely result in the driver being held responsible.

 

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