If you live in Minnesota, chances are, you or someone you know, at some time in their life has been injured after slipping and falling on snow and ice.  We recently won a favorable ruling from a judge in a slip and fall lawsuit in Worthington, Minnesota.  With winter approaching, this case got me thinking about the hazards involved with living in Minnesota in the winter, and how everyone should know their legal rights if they are injured in a slip and fall on either residential, municipal, or commercial property.  Sometimes these slip and fall injuries are purely accidental, and no one is to blame.  Other times, slip and fall injuries are the direct result of the negligence of the landowner in the inspection and/or maintenance of their property.

Under Minnesota law, a landowner has an affirmative duty to keep his or her land reasonably safe for persons lawfully on the property. This affirmative duty includes an ongoing duty to inspect and maintain the property, to ensure entrants on the property are not exposed to unreasonable risk of harm.  In Minnesota, during the winter months, this duty is often met by landowners keeping walkways, stairs, and parking lots clear of snow and ice, by using salt and sand, and by providing adequate lighting on and near walkways.  A landowner’s duty is not absolute however, and landowners may be relieved of this duty in situations where the danger or hazard is “open and obvious”; where the landowner did not have reasonable notice of the hazard; or they did not have a reasonable opportunity to remedy the danger or hazard.

You might be thinking to yourself, “for someone who is in Minnesota in the winter, aren’t build ups of snow and ice always open and obvious?”  The answer to that question is, no.  There are numerous situations where the ice or snow may not be “open and obvious.”  In some situations, inadequate lighting prevents a person from seeing the ice or snow.  Other times, the ice may be concealed or hidden by snow.  Or, the ice may be located in an area where a person’s focus and concentration may be on other tasks, such as returning a shopping cart to the cart corral, or pumping gas.    As the temperature drops, and Minnesota winter sets in, everyone should take extra care while walking outside.  If you have been injured in a slip and fall due to the negligence of a landowner, you may be entitled to a recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain, suffering, and emotional distress.  Contact one of our attorneys for a free consultation.