Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Icy Stairwell Slip and Fall Case Based on Failure to Prove Unnatural Accumulation of Ice

For residents of Illinois, winter weather can bring many serious dangers, including slippery walkways and stairwells. If the owner of a property fails to account for this type of dangerous condition and to make the premises safe, you could find yourself facing a serious and painful injury. As seasoned Chicago premises liability lawyers, we are standing by and ready to help you seek the justice that you deserve for an unnecessary slip and fall accident.

In a recent appellate case, the appellate court considered whether the lower court properly granted summary judgment in favor of a premises owner in an action involving a slip and fall on an icy stairway. The plaintiff alleged that the owners of the property allowed ice to accumulate on stairs and that the defendants acted negligently in failing to keep the property safe. More specifically, she claimed that the ice accumulation was due to faulty gutters o the roof that caused an unnatural amount of water to pour onto the stairwell and freeze in the cold temperatures.

According to Illinois law, liability for a fall that results from an unnatural accumulation of ice can be based on a defective condition on the property or the owner’s negligent maintenance of the property. The trial court concluded that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to show that the allegedly faulty gutters caused the unnatural accumulation of ice on the stairs. The only evidence that the plaintiff provided to support this argument was the existence of icicles hanging from the roof. She did not testify to any other evidence indicating that the gutters were installed improperly or that they were not maintained correctly. Nor did she provide evidence of building code violations or the routine existence of icicles stemming from improper construction of the gutters.

In her deposition, the plaintiff also testified that she was unsure of whether the ice was formed by the natural accumulation of snow melting and freezing on the steps. She also had not complained about the gutters allegedly faulty condition or the icicles prior to her fall and no other residents had made any complaints. Based on this, the appellate court concluded that summary judgment in the premises owner’s favor was proper.

The court also found that the lower court properly denied the plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, which is only granted where newly discovered evidence that was not available at the time of the trial, or changes in law, or errors of the court’s application of law exist. The plaintiff argued that the lower court erred in applying the law, and the appellate court disagreed referring to the court’s analysis regarding the unnatural accumulation of ice.

If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, proving your right to compensation can be complex. This is especially true where ice and snow are involved. At Therman Law Offices, we have handled numerous slip and fall accidents, which means that we are well versed in premises liability law and understand how to approach the claim to ensure that you receive the just outcome that you deserve. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your legal rights and how we can assist you. Call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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