I don’t know if this is going to apply this year where I live, but it might be useful to you:
The recent winter weather that rolled through North Carolina left an icy mess in its wake, and as a recent report aired on WNCT9 reminds us, that ice can make even a simple activity like walking dangerous.
Officials urged everyone to stay home and off the roads during the storm and its aftermath, resulting in the closure of many schools and businesses. Even as things began to return to normal, people raised concerns about the condition of roads and sidewalks. Although major streets were cleared, the majority of side streets were still not cleared or treated and were very dangerous to navigate.
East Carolina University college students were interviewed for the report, and they expressed concern over the still treacherous conditions of the roads in the area, in particular, the areas around 10th Street.
Many students who live in apartments in that area and walk to classes voiced concern about the increased risks of slipping and falling on ice, not only on the sidewalks they travel on to get to campus, but they were also concerned about the condition of the walkways on the campus itself.
Situations like these often raise the question of who exactly is responsible when a person sustains injuries from slipping and falling on ice. Can a slip and fall victim sue the property owner for damages for those injuries?
In most states, the answer to that question is pretty clear – yes, the victim can sue the property owner if they are injured because they slipped on an icy area on the property.
In North Carolina, however, the answer is not so clear because this state has a section in its personal injury statutes called “contributory negligence.” This means that even if a victim is only 1 percent at fault for their fall, they are barred from suing the property owner.
What types of behavior or activity would be considered contributory negligence in a slip and fall accident?
If a victim was talking on their phone or looking at something that was going on across the street as they were walking, the courts could consider that contributory negligence because the victim was not paying attention. Walking too fast when they fell could also be another reason the court would consider the victim was partly at fault for the fall.
Personal injury attorney Ben Whitley commented, “If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, there are important steps you should take such as documenting details about the environment your fall took place in and obtaining the names of any witnesses to the incident. You should also contact the property owner right away.”
With a few more winter months ahead of us, the chances are great that there will be more stormy weather to contend with. Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center has seen an increase in the number of patients who have been injured in falls and offers the following safety tips when dealing with icy conditions:
- Make sure to wear the appropriate footwear. Ideally, wear shoes or boots which have traction on the soles that can grip. Footwear with smooth soles increase the risk of slipping;
- Walk slowly and take smaller steps than you usually do;
- Keep hands out of your pockets to help maintain your balance. If there are handrails, use them. Try to avoid toting or carrying heavy items; and
- When you are getting in our out of a vehicle, use it to support yourself.