Snow and Ice: Liability for Your Injuries

by | Jan 20, 2016

In Indiana, the owner or operator of real property is not liable for injuries on his or her premises for the “fresh accumulation of naturally occurring snow and ice.” So if you go to the grocery store in a blizzard or ice storm and you slip and fall on ice getting out of your car then you are legally considered to be at fault and you cannot recover damages. However, the impact of that general rule is dramatically reduced by its narrow interpretation by our courts.

Another general rule of law is that businesses owe a duty to the public that they invite into their establishments to make the premises reasonably safe. Businesses have a duty to warn of dangers that they know or should know are less than obvious to customers, and they must take precautions to detect and remove these dangers. This duty includes the areas of their premises outside and exposed to inclement weather, like snow and ice.


Some examples:

If rain falling overnight is going to freeze by the time a business opens for business in the morning, then the property owner should take precautions to reduce the dangers to customers by applying deicers to the parking lots, sidewalks, and entryways. Inside the business, rugs should be put down over hard surfaces in foot traffic areas likely to be wet and slick from tracked in ice and water. Unremoved snow and ice around entryways can result in the thawing and refreezing that creates “black ice”; ice that is clear and hard to see. Businesses know, or should know, these conditions are hazardous and take precautions to remove or prevent them.