Personal Injury: Slip and Fall on Ice–Do You Have a Claim?

A winter wonderland may be fun to sing about–especially on Christmas eve–but, if you are negotiating a treacherous parking lot covered with ice, bursting into song is the last thing on your mind.

Slipping on ice is no laughing matter and, although falls may be funny in some slapstick type comedies, they can be downright deadly in real life.

To mind comes the case of diet founder Robert Atkins who on April 8, 2003, at age 72, slipped on the ice while walking to work, hitting his head and causing bleeding around his brain.

After losing consciousness on the way to the hospital, where he spent two weeks in intensive care, he died of “blunt impact injury of head with epidural hematoma.”

Fortunately, most falls–though painful–are not this deadly. You may be wondering, if you’ve fallen on the property of another, if you have a claim. I’ve responded to that issue in the following question which was originally posed at

Q. My mother slipped on the ice at her apartment complex and injured her shoulder and back. The complex assistant manager witnessed her fall. She has been off of her job at Walmart from the beginning of December and cannot go back until January. She is 85 and supplements her Social Security with her job at Walmart.

Does she have any recourse?

A. Slip and fall cases can be tough.

The key is “duty”.

Did the apartment complex have a duty to remove ice from the spot where your mother fell? Whether they had such a duty depends on the facts. It depends on where she fell.

If she fell in the parking lot she might not have a claim. It’s just not feasible, in cold climates, to maintain parking lots completely free of ice and snow. On the other hand, if ice had accumulated to a dangerous degree in the parking lot and the owners knew or should have known about it and took no steps to fix it then they could be liable.

If she fell on the steps to her apartment her claim might be stronger. Apartment complexes normally have a duty to remove ice and snow that accumulates on stair steps.

If she fell on a sidewalk her claim might be stronger still. Some counties and cities have ordinances which require a landowner to remove snow from the sidewalk within 24 hours. You can often find those ordinances on-line, at your local public library or, if that fails, at a nearby law library.

Law libraries are found at law schools, and, often, adjacent to court complexes. Most law libraries are open to the public and, during business hours, they frequently have a reference librarian or other assistants to help you find what you are looking for.

And, if you want to know exactly when the snow last fell, consult the National Weather Service at its website, for weather info on your locality.


Slips on ice are a peril of life in a cold climate. Many people fall without negligence on the part of the property owner. Whether you have a claim will depend on the law in your state and the facts of the case.


This article is intended for information purposed only. If you have a specific question about the law in your state consult an experienced injury attorney who has experience with slip and fall cases. He or she will help you sort out the facts.

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