Falls on Ice and the Natural Accumulation Rule
Millions of Americans fall on ice each year, many sustaining severe injuries as a result of the fall. In many cases, the falls could have been prevented with proper maintenance of a walkway or walking surface. However, accident claims involving falls on ice are extremely difficult to pursue due to a legal rule known as the “natural accumulation rule.”
The natural accumulation rule differs from state-to-state. In Illinois, the natural accumulation rule immunizes and protects property owners or business operators from being responsible for falls on natural accumulations of snow and ice on commercial properties, even if ignored by them on a designated walkway. Exceptions exist to the natural accumulation rule and the accident attorneys at Feagans Law Group have had tremendous success in utilizing those exceptions to provide a pathway to compensation for our clients.
On commercial properties, two primary exceptions to the natural accumulation rule exist in Illinois. The first exception involves a voluntary or contractual undertaking. When a person or company contracts or otherwise assumes the responsibility for removing snow and ice from a property, they have a duty to do so reasonably and in a manner that will protect pedestrians lawfully on a property. Such undertakings are common for property managers, maintenance companies, snow removal companies and in commercial leases.
The second exception to the natural accumulation rule applies to commercial and residential properties. This exception comes into play when a property is defectively designed or negligently maintained and, as a result thereof, ice improperly accumulates on a walking surface. Common examples of such design and maintenance problems include downspouts that empty onto a sidewalk, gutters that leak water down a wall that freezes on a sidewalk and parking lots that lack a proper slope or drainage and allow water to pool and freeze.
Injury claims resulting from falls on ice are incredibly complex and difficult to win. An experienced accident attorney who understands the natural accumulation rule and its exceptions is necessary for any injury victim who has suffered a fall on ice. Please allow the accident attorneys at Feagans Law Group to guide your path to justice following a fall injury on ice.