“Natural Accumulation” Theory

Anyone that has spent a winter in Illinois will tell you, Illinois has some of the harshest winters around.  Illinois often experiences long periods of below freezing temperatures, and significant snow and ice accumulation.  Slip and falls due to snow and ice accumulation are common.  However, they are not always compensable. 

Illinois has created law around a “natural accumulation” theory.  The owner of a property is not liable for injuries due to the natural accumulation of snow or ice on his property.  The land owner does not even have a duty to remove the natural accumulation of snow or ice from his property.

In order to recover for bodily injuries from falling on snow or ice, the injured person must prove that there was an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice, or an aggravation of a natural condition.  The injured party must also prove that the property owner had notice of the unnatural or aggravated condition. 

Further, if the property owner assumes the duty of removing the natural accumulation of snow or ice, the property owner can be held liable for injuries if the removal was done negligently or creates an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice.   Nonetheless beware, just because a property owner gratuitously removed naturally accumulated snow or threw some salt down to melt ice on his property, does not mean he has a continuing obligation to keep removing the naturally accumulated snow and ice.  So be careful when walking to your neighbor’s house for the annual Saturday game night or exiting your vehicle at the local shopping mall.

There are many exceptions to the “natural accumulation” theory which can make a fall due to snow or ice compensable.  Contact Shay & Associates to discuss the individual facts of your injury.

This weblog does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is intended to be established due to reading this weblog.  If you suffer from the above described injury, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your right to recovery is protected.

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