Who is Liable When You Slip and Fall on Ice?


Margot Lester

Property owners, tenants and employees can all be held liable for slips and falls on ice. They possess a duty of care to prevent injuries like slip and falls on property they control. For example, they must regularly inspect the premises for unsafe conditions and warn others when conditions might cause a fall.

Do you know what to do if someone slips and falls on ice, slush or snow? We pulled together this guide to help you understand your risk, prevent falls and respond if you do take a tumble.

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How to Prevent a Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

Slips and falls on ice, slush and snow aren’t inevitable. You can take steps as a pedestrian, property owner, or tenant to reduce the risk of falling.

PRO TIP: You can lower the likelihood of falling before you even set foot outside by improving your overall balance. This helps you stay steady on your feet in any weather.

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration recommends to:

  • Clear snow, slush and ice by spreading deicers like ice melt on walkways.
  • Wear proper footwear when you can’t avoid walking on snow, slush or ice.
  • Walk slowly and take short steps with your feet flat and pointed slightly out, with arms at your sides for balance. Think about how penguins walk!
  • Use handrails and grab bars.
  • Watch out for black ice, which blends in with the surface it’s covering. It’s especially prevalent in driveways, parking lots, sidewalks and areas that don’t get a lot of sun.

IMPORTANT: The Vermont Agency of Administration shows you how to fall to reduce injury.

What to Do After a Slip and Fall on Ice or Snow

Call 9-1-1 if your condition is serious. The CDC recommends that any older person who falls and hits their head see a doctor right away, especially if they’re on blood-thinning medications.

Every fall is different, but here’s some advice for what to do after a slip and fall on ice, slush or snow:

  1. Stay safe from further harm. That means getting up if you can and seeking medical care for your injuries. PRO TIP: Save all medical bills, receipts and insurance records, because you’ll show them to your attorney to strengthen your case.
  2. Take photos of your injuries and surroundings. This documentation helps prove that property owners created the environment that caused your accident.
  3. Consult a personal injury attorney to find out if you have a case to sue for lost wages if you miss work during recovery. Getting an assist from an experienced lawyer can help you build a stronger case.

IMPORTANT: The process is different if you’re a federal employee who falls on the ice.

Types of Injuries From an Ice Slip and Fall

One out of five falls cause a serious injury including:

  • Broken bones, especially wrist, arm, ankle and hip fractures. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling sideways.
  • Skull and brain injuries. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury like concussions and hematomas.

Complications from a fall

Two other conditions can related to a fall:

  1. Emotional distress. Even when not injured, victims of slips and falls may develop ptophobia, or a fear of standing or walking. This can lead to other health issues like being less active, avoiding outside time and isolating from friends and family — all of which makes another fall more likely.

PRO TIP: Learn more about compensation for pain and suffering.

  1. Exposure. When you slip and fall on the ice or in the snow, you’re in direct contact with a cold and damp surface. According to Ready.gov, if you stay down too long, you may develop a dangerous condition such as:
  • Frostbite: Signs of frostbite may include white or grayish skin and intense numbness. The damage to multiple layers of skin from frostbite is similar to a burn injury.
  • Hypothermia (body temperature below 95 degrees): Shivering, confusion or memory loss, fumbling hands or speech, and exhaustion or drowsiness.

Statistics for Slips and Falls on Ice

Unintended falls were the leading cause of nonfatal injury and injury-related emergency room visits in 2021 according to the CDC. The National Institutes of Health also reports that men are more likely than women to sustain fall-related injuries on ice or snow.

Slips and falls are especially common during wintry weather when slush, snow and ice make walking trickier.

Proving Negligence in an Ice Slip and Fall

You must provide evidence that the property owner or tenant was negligent. The core principles of tort law rely on the plaintiff proving these four statements:

  1. The owner or tenant had a duty of care to prevent slips and falls on their premises
  2. Their actions breached that duty
  3. Their breach directly or indirectly caused your injury
  4. Your damages are significant and warrant damages

IMPORTANT: Proving liability can be complicated and time-consuming. An experienced personal injury attorney can tell you if you have a case, and help you gather the evidence necessary to make your claim before the personal injury deadline in your state expires.

Can I Get Compensation for Slipping on Ice?

You may qualify for compensation if you prove the party responsible for your slip and fall owed you a duty of care. The amount you get depends on the specifics of your case, plus:

  • Laws in your state
  • Your relationship with the property owner, tenant or employee
  • The extent of their negligence that caused your damages
  • The economic and non-economic damages you sustained due to their prima facie negligence

Slip and Fall on Ice Settlement Amounts

Slip and fall personal injury settlements can range from $10,000 to $60,000 on average, but there is no cap and cases can go above $1 million.

PRO TIP: Don’t feel pressured to take the first offer insurance adjusters make — they may try to lowball you. Work with an attorney if you want to negotiate a higher settlement.

If a Negligent Party Caused Your Injuries, Call LegalASAP Now

Think you can’t afford a personal injury attorney? Most lawyers work on contingency. That means you don’t pay unless you get a settlement. Learn more about how it works.

When you’ve been injured in a fall on ice or snow that wasn’t your fault, you should focus on getting better. You may need a legal pro in your corner to prepare and argue your case. PRO TIP: Find out how to prepare to talk to an attorney about your fall on ice or snow.

Our network of more than 500 law firms nationwide is ready to help. To talk to a representative, call 888-927-3080 or fill out this short evaluation form below.

Margot Lester
CEO at The Word Factory | + posts

Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.