Watch Your Step: Safety on Icy Sidewalks and Stairs

Watch Your Step: Safety on Icy Sidewalks and Stairs

Here in Georgia, we may not see the accumulations of snow that they get up North, but we certainly have to deal with the cold temperatures that are responsible for turning precipitation into ice. Slick, icy conditions turn roads treacherous and cause countless motor vehicle accidents every winter. But it’s not just drivers that need to be careful. Anyone walking outside is in danger of slipping and falling, which can result in serious injuries such as muscle strains, fractures, and concussions.

From sidewalks to steps, walkways to parking lots, it’s important to exercise caution when the temperature drops. Ice can lurk under snow, and pavement that looks dark or wet may be covered in black ice. This virtually invisible hazard forms in thin sheets when water collects at a temperature below freezing. Sources of moisture include mist, fog, rain, melting snow, and exhaust from idling vehicles.

Black ice often appears during late-night and early morning hours when temperatures are lowest, though it can happen any time of day.

The National Safety Council reports that slips and falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits – and many are due to walking on icy surfaces. Although Georgia law places the assumption of the risk on pedestrians that see ice and choose to walk across it, the law also generally holds property owners liable for injuries caused by ice that cannot be seen or by ice in areas where pedestrians have reasonable expectations of safety. Most commercial property owners are expected to clear snow and to apply salt or sand to icy conditions. Failure to do so may constitute actionable negligence.

There are a few precautions pedestrians can take to lower the chances of being involved in a slip and fall due to ice:

  • Wear shoes with traction and avoid dress shoes.
  • Walk on the grass or snow if the sidewalk or walkway is too icy.
  • Take small steps on icy spots. It can help you keep your balance.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets and avoid carrying anything in your hands.
  • Wear clothes that do not restrict your vision.
  • Use handrails where provided.
  • Be aware of overhead hazards – melting snow and icicles can form dangerous puddles that refreeze.

Ice and black ice are always wintertime possibilities in the Peachtree State. If you are trying to put your life back together after a slip-and-fall accident involving ice, or if you have any questions about this topic, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the attorneys at The Mann Law Firm. We have over 50 years of experience helping people, and we can help you. Based in Macon, we proudly serve communities throughout Georgia. Contact us by calling (478) 742-3381 or by filling out our online form.