Addressing the Seasonal Spike in Slip and Fall Accidents Due to Ice and Snow in Illinois

During the winter months in Illinois, slip and fall accidents due to icy and snowy conditions spike dramatically. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among Illinois residents aged 65 and older. Slips and falls on ice or snow resulting in emergency room visits also increase significantly from November to February each year. This seasonal spike leads to thousands of injuries and costs millions in medical expenses annually across the state. Addressing this public safety issue requires a coordinated response from government agencies, businesses, and residents.

Role of Government Agencies

Government agencies at the state and local levels have an important part to play in reducing slip and fall accidents stemming from winter weather:

  • Enact and enforce ordinances requiring property owners to clear ice and snow from sidewalks and parking lots within a reasonable timeframe after a winter storm. Fines can help enforce compliance.
  • Deploy transportation and public works crews to treat major roadways proactively with salt and sand to improve traction and melt ice before and during winter storms.
  • Alert the public about upcoming weather events that may create hazardous conditions.
  • Document and analyze slip and fall incidents to identify problem areas and implement targeted solutions.

Responsibilities of Business Owners

Commercial property owners and managers, such as retail stores, restaurants, hotels, medical offices, etc. also need to take proactive steps to protect the safety of the public and employees on their premises:

  • Develop a snow and ice removal plan designating who is responsible for clearing walkways, stairs, disabled access ramps, and parking areas. Outline specific timeframes for completion based on weather forecasts. Having a detailed plan in place ahead of time ensures responsibilities are clear and response is swift when hazardous conditions arise.
  • Stock up on ice melt products, shovels, and other equipment before the winter season begins. Purchasing sufficient supplies helps avoid shortages when winter weather hits.
  • Train maintenance staff on safe shoveling techniques, proper application of ice melt, and checking/repairing any tripping hazards. Hands-on practice and refresher training improve skills and safety.
  • Post signage cautioning people to watch their step in potentially slippery areas. Warning signs prompt people to be more cautious.
  • Promptly place warning signs near any wet floors or remaining unaddressed slick spots. Quickly alerting people to hazards reduces the chances of an accident.

Best Practices for Individuals

Residents also need to exercise caution and adjust their behavior when temperatures drop:

  • Wear sturdy boots or traction cleats when walking on snow or ice. Proper winter footwear provides stability and prevents slips.
  • Take short, shuffling steps on slippery surfaces. Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible. Adjusting your gait helps maintain balance.
  • Keep hands out of pockets and free for balance. Having hands available allows you to catch yourself if you slip.
  • Walk on designated cleared paths when available. Avoid taking shortcuts over snow-covered grass or ice. Sticking to maintained areas is safer than trekking through uncleared snow or ice.
  • Use handrails when ascending or descending stairs. Handrails provide support and can prevent a fall if you start to slip.
  • Give yourself extra time to reach destinations carefully when conditions are hazardous.
  • Report any uncleared walkways or dangerous areas to property owners or local authorities.
  • Keep driveways, sidewalks, and entrances clear of snow and ice buildup at home. Apply ice melt regularly if needed.
  • Exercise additional caution if you have mobility limitations or use assistive equipment like a cane or walker. Consider asking someone to accompany you for stability if concerned.

By coordinating efforts between government, businesses, and citizens, Illinois can help reduce the spike in fall injuries and deaths resulting from the inevitable ice and snow that accompanies winter in the state. A multi-pronged public awareness and safety campaign focused on promoting prevention through information, planning, equipment, training, and policy changes may help make winter weather less perilous for Illinois residents.

Speak to a Slip and Fall Lawyer

If you suffer injuries from a slip and fall that was caused by someone else’s negligence, such as a business not clearing snow and ice from their entrance, consult a personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can investigate the accident, build a strong case proving liability, estimate the full value of your damages, negotiate fair compensation from insurance companies, and take legal action if needed.

Lawyers from Monge & Associates are here to help. We have offices in 32 locations and 19 states, including Illinois, Nebraska, and Washington.

Call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.