Slips and fall injuries are possibly one of the more common accidents that happen, so they're frequently the cause of lawsuits. Generally, premises liability suits have to demonstrate that the people responsible for the building or land were negligent, and a recent case from Pennsylvania that readers may be familiar with failed to do so. This led to the case being thrown out.
A woman sued a homeowners association after an incident in January 2011, according to the story from Feb. 7. She claimed that she fell over and broke her ankle after stepping on black ice. A witness indicated that no salt had been put down, and images that had been taken two days after the plaintiff reportedly fell showed a patch of black ice that could have been responsible.
The association requested a summary judgment, since it had evidence that no notice of the issue of ice had been made. The judge agreed that the plaintiff had failed to show that the association had received notice of the issue. Although there were snow piles, this alone is not enough to establish that the association would know that the snow would melt and then refreeze, potentially causing black ice. For a successful case, the woman would have to show that the issue had existed for long enough for the association to discover it as part of a reasonable routine check, the judge mentioned.
Timing is everything in these cases, and when there isn't enough time for a company or individual to react to an event such as ice, it cannot necessarily be held responsible. Given that the plaintiff testified that there was no ice at 10:30 p.m., yet it had formed by the time the reported accident happened at 03:00 a.m., the judge felt that there was no way the association would have had time to react to the new ice. Because of this, the case was dismissed by the judge.
Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Judge dismisses suit against homeowners association by woman who broke ankle on black ice" Jon Campisi, Feb. 07, 2014