How to Prepare for the Snow in Connecticut

Articles,Slip-And-Fall Accidents On Thursday, February 27, 2020

By Attorneys Charles P. Reed and Dorothy J. Diaz-Hennessey of Loughlin FitzGerald, P.C.

As Northeasterners, Connecticut residents don’t fear a little snow. You probably know to plan ahead for the inevitable snow and ice storms. With each winter storm comes the potential for a person to slip and fall on ice or snow outside your home. So what is your responsibility as a homeowner?

Driveways, entry walks and steps should be cleared of snow and ice within a reasonable time after a winter storm. But who is responsible for the sidewalks outside your home? Generally, the municipality has the duty to maintain public sidewalks. However, there are two exceptions to the general rule: 1) where a statute or ordinance shifts the duty to the abutting landowner or 2) where the abutting landowner acted in a way to create an unsafe condition of the public sidewalk.

In those municipalities where the duty shifts to the abutting landowner, the abutting landowner is to use reasonable care to keep the sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition from snow and ice. So, what does that mean? Landowners are responsible to clear snow and ice after it has been present for a sufficient length of time. Therefore, it is best to begin shoveling immediately after the storm has ended or in the hours immediately following to prevent liability if someone slips and falls.

For example, Wallingford, North Haven, Hamden, Cheshire, and Meriden have adopted the statute or have an ordinance which shifts the duty to the abutting landowner. Therefore, if you live in one of those towns, you are liable to any person injured caused by the presence of ice or snow on the public sidewalk.

In order to determine the extent of your obligations to remove snow and ice from an abutting public sidewalk, a review of the local town or city ordinances is necessary.  To determine your obligations and to discuss procedures that you can implement to minimize liability from accidents caused by snow and ice conditions, we strongly suggest that you contact a local personal injury attorney.

Tips to Prevent Slips and Falls on Your Property

  1. Buy a shovel, salt, and other items before a snowstorm.
  2. Put sand down before the storm.
  3. If you are not able to shovel snow, hire a contractor or person to do it for you.
  4. Do a good job shoveling. Don’t leave isolated patches of snow or ice.
  5. Spread sand, gravel, or salt on walking areas to create more traction for pedestrians.
  6. Pile snow in a safe area. Make sure the runoff from melting snow will not refreeze on the pavement.
  7. Inspect your property by doing the following:
    • Check that your gutter won’t leak and create a pile of ice.
    • Fix uneven or broken sidewalks or stairs so snow doesn’t cover the hazard.
    • When it rains, look to see where puddles form as these areas will be more prone to ice patches.
  8. Have proper lighting so people can see ice and snow.
  9. Place a mat or rug at the entrance of your home or business to encourage the wiping of feet.
  10. Wipe away puddles of melted snow that form near the entrance of your home.

What to Do After A Slip and Fall

Just as it is possible for someone to slip and fall outside your home, it is also possible for you to slip and fall and injure yourself. You probably know the feeling. You’re walking outside and step on a patch of ice. You feel your feet slide, so you begin to panic. You put your arms out to regain your balance and hopefully avoid a fall. But what happens if you do fall?

After you slip and fall on ice, you may feel embarrassed. You may want to brush it off and pretend you’re okay, especially if other people saw you fall. But slip and falls can be serious. It’s okay to get help. If you fall on ice, it’s important to do the following:

  1. Seek medical attention if you are in pain and make sure your injuries are documented.
  2. Record witnesses. Get the names and contact information of people who saw you fall.
  3. Report the incident and dangerous condition to the property owner.
  4. Take photos. Since ice and snow can melt quickly, it’s crucial to document the scene of your accident right after it happens.
  5. Call an attorney to discuss your legal rights. A slip and fall lawyer can explain all applicable laws to you and determine if you have a case.

Tips to Avoid Slip and Falls

Under Connecticut law, the landowner or homeowner may have liability, but we also will look at what the pedestrian did that may have caused him or her to fall. Therefore, you must exercise a greater degree of caution while walking outside in the winter. Here are some tips to avoid a fall:

  1. Avoid walking in areas where snow or ice is visible.
  2. Pay attention to where you are walking and look at the sidewalk ahead of you. Be especially cautious of black ice.
  3. Take shorter steps.
  4. Wear appropriate footwear, such as boots or slip-resistant footwear.
  5. Walk slowly and carefully.
  6. Use handrails when available.
  7. Keep your hands free and out of your pockets. You will need to use your arms to regain balance if you feel yourself slip. Avoid carrying shopping bags or other items.
  8. Be careful when getting in or out of a vehicle. Hold onto the vehicle for balance.
  9. Tap your foot on potentially slick areas to see if the areas are slippery.

Hire a Skilled, Local, Personal Injury Attorney to Help You With Your Claim

In the days after an accident, we strongly suggest that you contact a local personal injury attorney to represent you. A qualified attorney can protect your interests, handle the insurance adjusters, answer your questions, and help you get the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. You never want to give a statement to the wrongdoer’s insurance company without the benefit of an attorney.

Personal injury attorneys like us work on what’s called a “contingency” basis, meaning we are paid a percentage of whatever you receive if and when you win your case, plus any costs we advanced while prosecuting your case. This means you owe nothing up front or along the way. A local attorney is particularly helpful, making appointments and meetings quicker and easier.

If you are involved in an accident, we know there are many options out there. We here at Loughlin FitzGerald—a firm with deep Wallingford roots—would be honored if you considered us. Please feel free to call us—Attorney Charles Reed, a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated personal injury attorney with nearly 30 years of experience, or his colleague Attorney Dorothy Diaz-Hennessey—at 203-265-2035 to discuss your case.

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