Accidents from winter weather are expected to put an added strain on already packed hospital emergency rooms this year. Snow, ice, and freezing rain can wreak havoc on roads, sidewalks, and floors that become wet and slick from the elements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than a million people are hospitalized each year with slip and falls, and these types of injuries increase dramatically during the winter months. If you have been badly injured after falling on snow or ice, there are several things you should do to ensure you are compensated fairly for your injury.
- Steps to Take After Falling at Work
- Steps to Take After Falling on Snow or Ice at a Business
Steps to Take After Falling at Work
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act grants workers benefits without regard to fault. However, to remain eligible for benefits, a worker must have been injured at work or performing work-related tasks. In order to collect benefits, the injured employee must give notice within 120 days of the accident and provide details of the accident and any resulting injuries.
There are several types of workers’ compensation benefits, including:
- Medical expenses: Injured workers may receive compensation for medical expenses such as medications, surgeries, therapy, travel expenses to and from the doctor, and any other expense associated with the care and treatment of an injury.
- Wage loss benefits: Workers who miss more than seven days of work may be eligible for wage loss benefits. In our state, total disability benefits are generally two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, unless wages do not meet a certain threshold—then, they are 90%. Partial disability benefits are two-thirds of the difference between the worker’s pre-and post-injury average weekly wages.
- Death benefits: Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of workers’ comp claims and the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths. Survivors of slip and fall victims may be eligible for death benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
While an injured worker may not sue their employers personally for their workplace injuries, they may be eligible to sue any responsible third-parties. Known as third-party claims, an employee who was injured in a parking lot on their way to work, for example, could make a claim against the parking lot owner who failed to clear the ice and snow. Third-party claims in this context are extremely important, because they allow an injured worker to seek compensation for pain and suffering, a form of damages not provided for by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.
Steps to Take After Falling on Snow or Ice at a Business
Outside of a place of employment, many slip and fall accidents happen on public parking lots, sidewalks, and wet floors of businesses. When these types of accidents happen during winter weather, it is often due to the negligence of a business or property owner. No matter how it happened, injuries from falls can be serious and require long-term medical care and treatment. When you’re injured and it is because someone hasn’t treated or shoveled a walkway, doesn’t have a mat down to soak up water, or left an ice-covered parking lot untouched, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
However, there are some steps everyone should take as quickly as possible to ensure they can get maximum compensation for their injuries.
Seek medical treatment right away. If your injuries are serious, you should go to the hospital for a complete evaluation. If you don’t require immediate attention but are hurt, you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. Not only is this critical to your health, but it can also be detrimental to your case. Both your personal injury attorney and the insurance adjusters will be relying on this report when building your case for compensation or evaluating your claim!
Take photos of the scene. Any and all unsafe conditions should be captured on your cellphone camera. These conditions are often remedied by the business owner immediately after someone is hurt, so acting swiftly is incredibly important. These photos help prove the liability and support what is in your medical records.
Report your slip and fall accident to the property or business owner promptly. While you want to notify property owners of the accident, DO NOT give any written or recorded statements before you speak to an attorney. This is to ensure that you are not making any comments that could jeopardize your case. While you may think the questions you are being asked are innocent, the insurance company and business owners are doing everything they can to minimize their loss, and they are hoping you say something they can use in their defense.
Keep a file of all the relevant documents pertaining to your case. Medical bills, records of expenses related to the accident, proof you haven’t been able to work, and any communication from the insurance company or property owner are among the items you should keep in an organized file. Your injury and accident attorney will need all of this information and documentation to present your claim to the insurance company in the best and most persuasive fashion.
Protecting Yourself and Your Patrons
To get ahead of slip and fall injuries during the winter months altogether, business owners and pedestrians alike should practice extreme caution.
Employers and Business Owner Responsibilities
Under the legal concept of premises liability, property owners have a duty to provide a safe environment for residents, visitors, and employees. That means, if walkways need repaired, snow needs shoveled, or other hazards arise, the landlord is required to handle the situation in a timely manner. If the property owner is aware of a problem and he or she refuses or neglects to remedy it, it may become a legal liability if someone is hurt or killed because of the hazard.
Not acting on a hazardous condition could constitute negligence, which is the underlying key factor in personal injury cases. Anyone injured or hurt because of negligence can pursue compensation for their damages in an injury claim or lawsuit against the responsible party. So, whether it’s an office building, restaurant, nursing home, hotel, shopping mall, grocery store, etc., business and property owners should always play it safe when it comes to winter weather.
- Have an emergency communication plan in place for employees
- Be sure to have rock salt, sand, and snow shovels on hand
- If snow or ice blocks entryways to your business, define alternative ways to enter
- Allow employees to work from home if possible, during winter storms
- Remove ice and snow from rooftops to ensure now one is injured below
- Delay the start of the workday to allow ice and snow to melt if possible
Patrons and Employees
- Walk like a penguin by focusing on your footing and taking short, slow, and flat-footed steps
- Take it slow
- Avoid using cell phones or carrying large loads while walking
- Walk on marked paths and avoid short cute
- Wear proper footwear for the weather
- Watch for changing conditions —freezing, melting, and refreezing
- Step down and not out when getting out of a vehicle
- Step down off curbs, not out
- Report icy conditions to a supervisor immediately
Injured After Falling on Snow or Ice? Call Georgelis First!
If you’ve been injured after falling on ice at work or slipping on ice on a commercial property, you should contact Lancaster’s TOP Injury Law Firm right away at 1-800-HURT-NOW. Every case is unique, and the circumstances surrounding the accident are all contributing factors when deciding if you have a case. Our experienced, aggressive, and successful attorneys have helped countless accident victims get the compensation they deserve. In fact, we have won more than 99% of our cases and recovered more than $60,000,000.00 for our clients. We can help you too!
We’re available 24/7 and will come to you for a free consultation. We never collect a fee unless we get money for you. Contact us today and we’ll handle everything from there!