Illinois Courts Decides that Snow and Ice Removal Act Didn’t Allow Building Owner to Avoid Liability for Ice Accumulation

Sometimes, things that may seem small can be enormously important to your injury case. For example, a recent case turned on whether or not a walkway qualified as a sidewalk or not under Illinois law. This example highlights the fact that any injury case can contain seemingly minute nuances that make all of the difference between success and defeat. To make sure that your case has a strong chance of success, be sure that you have retained the representation of a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney.

The injury that led to the case happened when Rita slipped and fell on an area of ice near the rear of her condominium building in Chicago. Rita sued both the condo association and the property management company. Rita’s case, as supported by the testimony of her expert witness, was that the man who performed snow removal had cleared snow from the area by pushing it into tall piles, that the mound of snow began to melt in warmer temperatures, and that the water began flowing down the area’s sloped surface and re-froze when the temperatures dropped again.

The area where Rita fell looked “not very different from a standard alley in Chicago,” according to the court. The area was used by condo residents to park their vehicles and also sometimes used by residents to walk to the building’s rear entrance. The legal definition of the area was the key to the case because the crux of the condo association and the management company’s defense was that they were immune, under Illinois’ Snow and Ice Removal Act, from any lawsuit related to the removal of snow from a sidewalk abutting a property.

In this case, the appeals court determined that the area where Rita fell wasn’t a sidewalk. The court explained that an appropriate reading of the Snow and Ice Removal Act must lead to the conclusion that the General Assembly meant for a “sidewalk” to mean only “a municipal sidewalk, the public right-of-way reserved for pedestrians, bordering the property of a residential landowner.” The appeals court looked at many different court rulings and other statutes to reach its determination that the proper definition of a “sidewalk” narrowed it to public walkways.

This conclusion that a sidewalk could not be a private walkway meant that the area where Rita slipped and fell could not possibly be a sidewalk in terms of the Snow and Ice Removal Act. This meant that the condo association and the management company could not be immune from suit, and Rita should have been allowed to proceed with her premises liability case.

Regardless of whether your case seems straightforward or complicated, it pays to have skilled counsel working on your behalf. The experienced Chicago injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eagle, Eisenstein, Johnson & Bareck have been effectively representing personal injury clients for many years and are ready to put our abilities and resources to work for you. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Winter Weather in Illinois Again Brings Slick Roads, Fatal Vehicle Crashes, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Jan. 29, 2018

4 precautions to prevent slip-and-falls during winter, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Feb. 8, 2015