Can a Chicago Business Be Sued for Slipping on Ice or Snow?


Last year, the number of slip-and-fall claims doubled in Illinois from the previous winter, a telling tale of how dangerous snow and ice can be. And while many people can walk away with just a sore butt, there are many instances where it can be worse. So what happens when someone slips and falls on snow and ice in Chicago — Can the individual sue your business?

First, let me say that by no means is this meant to be legal advice. I’m just a snow plow business owner trying to share a few details I’ve learned on my own through reading and researching the web. Consider this blog more of an editorial than legal advice and we’ll all remain happy campers. 🙂

With that in mind, it’s important to know the liability factors in Illinois. There is a general rule that protects the property owner from liability over slips due to snow and ice when the slip was caused by "a natural accumulation of ice."

Natural accumulation of ice can include:

  • snow and ice not shoveled or salted (due to natural accumulation)
  • tamped down snow from pedestrian or car traffic
  • water puddles inside buildings from snow tracked inside

However, a business can be sued if:

  • a lease provision makes them responsible for removing snow and ice
  • snow unnaturally accumulates in one location due to actions of the management (ex. shoveling snow in a pile next to entrances and exits)
  • a property defect causes unnatural accumulation (ice forming at downspouts pointed towards sidewalks)
  • the business violates the Municipal Code of Chicago that state tenants and property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks

Though there can be a blurred line between what is natural and unnatural accumulation, knowing these differences can save you from a lawsuit. To prevent your company from becoming involved in an injury lawsuit, there are a few preventative steps to take:

  1. Assess your property and make sure it is prepared for the winter.
  2. Make that you have contingency plans in place for snow removal, especially if you are responsible for it.
  3. And most importantly, having a reliable snow plowing company can save you from many headaches and liability issues.

To learn more about creating a risk-free, safe environment during Chicago winters, contact Brancato Snow and Ice Management.