Rhode Island winters are not mild. Heavy snowfalls and icy conditions are common throughout the state during winter months. These conditions create a danger for anyone on foot. Sidewalks, outdoor walkways, parking lots, stairs and other walking areas can be extremely slippery, resulting in falls.
A slip-and-fall accident on an icy sidewalk can cause serious injuries, including wrongful death. Property owners and other responsible parties in Rhode Island have a duty to make their premises reasonably safe for tenants and visitors, which includes removing ice and snow within a reasonable time after it collects to reduce the risk of a slip-and-fall accident. A failure to do so that leads to an injury accident may make the responsible party liable for the losses a victim suffers in a fall caused by the slippery surface.
Rhode Island Premises Liability Law
Slip-and-fall accidents are governed by premises liability law. In Rhode Island, a landowner has a general duty to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance of his or her property. The duty of care for a particular person on his or her property may depend on the relationship between the landowner and the visiting person.
If it is established that a slip-and-fall accident was the result of a failure to maintain the sidewalks outside or on the property, the landowner may be held accountable, and required to pay the injured person damages.
Facts About Sidewalk Slip And Fall Accidents
There are a shocking number of serious injuries that can occur in a fall, ranging from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries to spinal cord injuries and, in the most tragic cases, death.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people age 65 and older are far more likely to fall. The ice and snow in Rhode Island makes the winter months particularly dangerous for the elderly, but a serious fall can happen to a person of any age if conditions are right.
In Rhode Island Does A Landowner Owe A Duty To Keep Sidewalk Safe?
Both homeowners and businesses have a duty to make their property safe for invited guests, such as clearing away snow and ice from steps and sidewalks.
This duty applies to those legally or reasonably expected to be on the premises. A tenant, visitor, worker or guest who is legally on the property who is injured due to a failure to meet this duty of reasonable care may file a claim against the property owner.
Duty Of Reasonable Care In Clearing Snow And Ice
A Rhode Island property owner is expected to clear ice and snow off sidewalks, stairs and other outdoor areas within a “reasonable time” after the snow has stopped falling. This is a part of the landowner’s responsibility to use “reasonable care” to protect visitors to the property, including protecting visitors from dangerous conditions the landowner knew about or should reasonably have discovered.
Some municipalities in Rhode Island have ordinances regarding snow and ice removal. For example, Providence requires “all owners, occupants or persons, having care of any building or lot bordering upon any street, highway or public place within the city” to remove enough snow from adjacent sidewalks to create a 3-foot-wide path within 8 daylight hours after the end of any snowfall. This rule is found in Sec. 23-13 of the Providence City Ordinances.
Landlord/tenant Duties For Slippery Sidewalks
Rhode Island’s Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Section 34-18-22, requires residential landlords to keep common areas, including sidewalks, steps and parking lots, in a reasonably safe condition – which includes removing ice and snow.
A landlord’s responsibility to clear ice and snow from a property to protect tenants may depend on the relationship between the landlord and tenant and the specific terms of the lease. A tenant who suffers a serious injury in a fall is likely to be able to file a claim to recover compensation in cases in which it is established that a landlord was negligent in keeping the premises safe.
For example, our firm recovered $80,000 for a tenant who fell on ice allowed to accumulate on landlord’s property. Read more of our case results.
Slip And Fall On Ice Injuries
A fall on an icy sidewalk can cause serious injuries. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center reports that 28 percent of all spinal cord injuries are caused by slip-and-fall accidents. Slip-and-fall accidents are the leading cause of TBIs, which can mean physical and cognitive impairments, some of which can never be fully resolved. Slip-and-fall injuries may include leg, arm and wrist fractures. These injuries, and many others, can be expensive to treat and may leave a person with life-long disabilities.
A case of serious injury such as a brain injury that occurred on an icy sidewalk could allow the injured person to seek compensation for all damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Dedicated To Justice
At Marasco & Nesselbush, Rhode Island’s trusted personal injury law firm, our personal injury attorneys are committed to personal, social and economic justice. In our many years of experience, we have successfully resolved many slip-and-fall injury cases, and we remain dedicated to providing outstanding representation.
To learn more about how we can achieve extraordinary legal results, please fill out the free case evaluation form on this page, or call us today at 401-443-2999 for a free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Warwick, Wakefield, Woonsocket, and Providence and are here to help you.