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Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury Plaintiffs

Posted on in Personal Injury

Strict Interpretation of Snow Removal Law Benefits Injury PlaintiffsThe legal distinction between a sidewalk and other walking surfaces may determine the success of your personal injury case. The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act states that property owners who remove snow from sidewalks abutting their properties are not liable if someone is injured because of icy conditions created by the snow removal. This legal immunity makes it difficult for people to receive personal injury compensation when they slip and fall because of an untreated accumulation of ice. However, some Illinois courts strictly interpret the law as applying only to sidewalks and not other paved surfaces.

Liability Standard

Illinois law does not require property owners to clear the snow off of their walkways or hold them liable for personal injuries on their property caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. Before the Snow and Ice Removal Act, personal injury victims could claim that property owners who cleared snow from their sidewalks created an unnatural accumulation of snow. The melting snow piles caused icy conditions on sidewalks. The Snow and Ice Removal Act changed the liability standard, and property owners are now liable only if:

  • They willfully or wantonly created the hazardous condition; or
  • Negligence in the condition of the property caused an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.

Thus, property owners are not liable for the melt off from a pile of snow they have created, but they may be liable if a malfunctioning gutter system caused the ice accumulation.

Recent Case

In the case of Hussey v. Chase Manor Condominium Association, an Illinois appellate court reversed a lower court’s decision to grant a summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff is seeking injury compensation from her condo association because icy conditions in the parking lot caused her to fall and break her ankle. The defendant cited the Snow and Ice Removal Act as the reason for summary judgment. However, the appellate court ruled that the act does not apply to this case because the incident did not occur on a sidewalk. The court stated that the text of the act refers only to sidewalks and the writers of the act did not intend for it to be applied to other paved walkways.

Legal Interpretation

Illinois courts may have differing interpretations of the Snow and Ice Removal Act until the language of the act is changed or the Illinois Supreme Court rules on whether the law should strictly apply to sidewalks. A McHenry County personal injury attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, understands how to successfully argue a premises liability case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.



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