Although slip-and-fall accidents take place every day, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that reports of these accidents increase significantly during winter months due to snow, rain, sleet, and freezing temperatures. These weather conditions can turn regular surfaces into dangerous hazards. If you were harmed in a slip-and-fall accident caused by unaddressed winter weather conditions on public or private property, you could be eligible to recover financial compensation by holding the negligent property owner accountable. The experienced Hampton personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. Call us to schedule a free case review so we can make sure you understand your rights.
Premises Liability Law in Virginia
Property owners in Virginia owe a duty to certain visitors to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. If someone is injured due to a failure to uphold that duty, the owner could be liable for compensating the victim for their injuries.
The issue of whether or not a property owner is liable for an injury that takes place on their property will depend on the injured party’s legal classification at the time of the accident. There are three categories of visitors:
- Invitee: An invitee is an individual who lawfully enters the premises for the purpose of conducting business with the owner, such as a diner in a restaurant or a customer at a grocery store.
- Licensee: Licensees, while also invited guests, are there for social reasons unrelated to business, like a neighbor who is invited to a party.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is an individual who enters a premises unlawfully and without the permission of the property owner.
Being injured on another person’s property does automatically give rise to a premises liability case. Every accident is different and requires a full investigation of the surrounding facts and a thorough knowledge of all relevant laws. The help of an experienced Hampton personal injury lawyer is vital to the successful outcome of these cases.
Laws Surrounding Slip-and-Falls Caused By Snow or Ice
In Virginia, the owner of a property that is open to the public has a legal duty to ensure the property is maintained in a reasonably safe condition, address potentially dangerous circumstances in a reasonable time frame, and warn others of any hazardous conditions. The rule regarding ice and snow on properties open to the public states that “natural accumulations” of snow or ice must be cleared in a reasonable length of time following a storm. In Hampton, a “reasonable length of time” is defined as no more than three hours after the snow has stopped or by 9:00 a.m. if the storm occurred overnight. Failure to do so could result in liability for the accident.
Private property owners, such as homeowners, do not owe the same level of duty as owners of public establishments or businesses. Homeowners also have a legal duty of care to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition but are not obligated to address or warn others of open and obvious conditions, such as snow and ice.
On that note, an individual who is traveling in an area with an accumulation of snow or ice also has a duty to exercise reasonable caution. Due to Virginia’s pure contributory negligence law, if a person is injured in a slip-and-fall because they acted negligently in an area where snow or ice was obvious, they will most likely be unable to recover compensation from the property owner.
Contact Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp
If the accumulation of ice or snow at a private property or business caused your slip-and-fall accident, you could be eligible to collect damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses associated with your accident.
The experienced Hampton personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you determine if your injuries, even those not related to winter weather, were due to the property owner’s negligence as we did when we secured an $800,000 jury verdict for a client who was injured at a Virginia rental property. If you would like to discuss the facts of your potential case with a skilled attorney, contact us today by calling (833) 997-1774 or via the contact form on our website. We have offices in Hampton, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake.
Rick Shapiro has practiced personal injury law for over 30 years in Virginia, North Carolina, and throughout the Southeastern United States. He is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy (ABA Accredited) and has litigated injury cases throughout the eastern United States, including wrongful death, trucking, faulty products, railroad, and medical negligence claims. During his three-decade career, Shapiro has won client appeals before the VA Supreme Court, VA Court of Appeals, NC Supreme Court, SC Supreme Court, WV Supreme Court, TN Supreme Court, and three times before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, underscoring Shapiro’s trial achievements. In addition, he and his law firm have won settlements/verdicts in excess of $100 million. His success in and out of the courtroom is a big reason why he was named 2019 “Lawyer of the Year” in railroad law in U.S. News & World Report's Best Lawyers publication (Norfolk, VA area), and he has been named a “Best Lawyer” and “Super Lawyer” by those peer-reviewed organizations for multiple years. Rick was also named a “Leader in the Law, Class of 2022” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly (total of 33 statewide honorees consisting of lawyers and judges across Virginia). And in September 2023, Rick was selected as a recipient of the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) 2023 President’s Award. Although many nominations were submitted from across the country, Rick was just one of eight attorneys chosen by the prestigious National Board which certifies civil trial attorneys across the U.S. Rick was also recently named to Virginia Lawyers Weekly 2024 Virginia’s Go To Lawyers Medical Malpractice. The attorneys awarded this honor are nominated by their colleagues and chosen by a panel from the publication.