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What You Need to Know About Slip & Fall Accidents This Winter


As temperatures continue to plunge, sleet, snow, ice and black ice create a nasty recipe for slip and fall accidents. In a perfect world, you should feel free to walk on a sidewalk or another public place and not worry about falling and hurting yourself. Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents happen all the time. According to the National Safety Council, falls are a leading cause of injury in the U.S. and are responsible for approximately 9 million emergency room visits each year. In many cases, such personal injury accidents could have easily been prevented. Below are a few important winter tips to help keep you safe. Should an unfortunate slip and fall accident occur, Sheeley Law also wants you to be informed of your rights.

  1. Think traction, not fashion. Many slip and fall accidents can be prevented by wearing proper winter shoes, for example, boots with rubber soles. Similar to the tires on your car, having shoes with good traction can prevent skidding. It is also important to know that if you do suffer a slip and fall injury, save the shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident in a plastic shopping bag and do not wear them again until after your case is settled. Preserving your shoes as evidence is important. If you were wearing appropriate winter footwear, you may have just eliminated an important defense strategy from the insurance company who will be looking for reasons to deny liability.

  2. Take extra precaution when you are getting out of your car. Many of us are in a rush to arrive at our destination, which is why a majority of slip and fall accidents happen as soon as you park and exit your vehicle. Uncovered parking lots are often slick and icy. Take a moment to look outside your vehicle first. Getting out of your car too quickly can lead to a loss of footing and puts you at a high risk for falling.

  3. Keep an eye out for black ice and take steps to avoid it. Black ice can be especially difficult to see due to its ability to blend in with its surroundings. Specifically, black ice tends to resemble the pavement on the road, though it is actually clear. It typically forms when the air outside is at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and when rain is falling.

  4. Take shorter steps than usual and walk at a slower pace. This gives you more time to react and catch your balance if you do encounter a slick surface.

  5. Report hazardous conditions. If you notice untreated or dangerous sidewalks or pavements, report them to a property owner or business manager.

Slip and falls most frequently occur in restaurants, department stores, supermarkets, driveways, gas stations, banks and even hospitals. Unfortunately, even the most cautious of people can sustain injuries – from mild to severe – from a slip and fall accident. If this ever happens to you, here’s what you need to know:


Who is Liable in a Slip & Fall Accident?


Property owners and businesses have a duty to keep their premise safe from ice, water, slush, and other hazardous conditions. Rhode Island’s “premises liability law” makes it clear that welcome guests and patrons have the right to assume they aren’t in immediate danger when visiting property owned or controlled by someone else. This means property owners or occupiers can be held responsible for violation of the premises liability law if they fail to remove the snow and ice, or fail to post warning signs in a timely manner.


This may sound clear cut. However, slip and fall cases can be very hard to win without the involvement of an experienced personal injury attorney. The injured party has a difficult task to prove that the owner or occupier of the property where the injury occurred is negligent.


If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall accident, Rhode Island Personal Injury lawyer Ann Sheeley will provide a free-of-charge, no-obligation consultation, and will meet with you in any of the Sheeley Law offices, your home or at the hospital, as needed. If the slip and fall accident happened in a work environment then Sheeley Law can help you process the case through the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation or Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation systems.


If negligence is determined and there are grounds for a claim, Attorney Ann Sheeley will guide you through the process, protect your rights and ensure you get maximum compensation for your injuries, including medical bills and lost wages.


If you have questions or would like more information, contact Personal Injury Attorney Ann Sheeley at 401-619-5555.