Chicago can be a very cold place during the winter months. The city experiences an average of 37 inches of snowfall each winter, and that snow often starts in November and continues falling through March. Many residents and tourists continue walking everywhere even when the weather is frigid. Yet, ice and snow make walking through Chicago far more dangerous during the winter months than it is throughout much of the rest of the year.
Occasionally, people on their way to work or a meet-up with friends get hurt because they slip and fall on snowy or icy surfaces. The grates in the sidewalk and the stairs leading up to another road or an elevated train platform are often some of the slipperiest and most dangerous parts of town. People can fall on the grates, possibly tumbling into the street where they could end up struck by vehicles. A slip on icy stairs could be equally dangerous. Not only could someone end up rolling into traffic after falling down the stairs, but they could incur severe injuries during the fall itself. People may end up in the hospital and unable to work for weeks.
When are municipal authorities responsible for the injuries pedestrians may suffer because of snowy and icy conditions?
There are rules about snow and ice removal in Chicago
For the most part, individual property owners are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks around Chicago. Both residential property owners and businesses must diligently remove snow and ice as it accumulates on sidewalks. Those who fail to do so will incur premises liability that could result in a lawsuit or a sizable insurance claim if people fall and get hurt.
However, there are some components of the sidewalk infrastructure that the city itself typically maintains. The grates in sidewalks connect to city infrastructure below the ground and are therefore at least partially the responsibility of the city. The same is true of the metal stairs that help people access streets and train platforms at a different elevation.
When people fall on sections of cement sidewalk, it will likely be the property owner of the adjacent building who is liable for the losses they suffer. If someone tumbles down the stairs on their way to catch a train or slips on an icy grate in the sidewalk, that might be the responsibility of municipal authorities rather than individual property owners.
Taking legal action is often necessary for those who have been harmed by unsafe winter sidewalk conditions and who are worried about recovering their expenses. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.