Can You Sue When Ice Falls From A Building?

Premises liability cases do not just result from fall injuries. Personal injury cases also happen when something falls from a building onto someone, no matter where they are.

When that happens, the building owner can be held accountable for the dangerous condition. They have an obligation to properly maintain their building, no matter the weather conditions.

If you have been injured when ice fell and hit you, you can seek compensation for your damages.

Call our law firm for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options. We will fight hard for you to receive the compensation that you deserve.

ice fall from building personal injury lawsuit

When ice falls from a building and causes an injury, the individual may have a legal claim against the property owner and/or management company.

The Danger of Ice and Snow in Chicago

Walking on a public sidewalk and driving on streets in Chicago winters can be dangerous for a number of reasons.

Snow and ice will accumulate on buildings, especially those made out of glass.

Ice can form on:

  • Railings
  • Rooftops
  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Windows
  • Ledges

While natural accumulation can build up on any size of building, the problem is even worse in the commercial district in the city.

The taller the building, the higher the chance that there will be an ice condition.

A person will be even more seriously injured when ice falls from hundreds of feet in the air. It has been known to total cars when passing vehicles are struck by chunks of snow and ice.

The winter weather conditions in Chicago are far worse than in most other major U.S. cities. Chicago IL sees an average of forty inches of snow each year, and the moisture will freeze into large chunks.

Temperatures reach the single digits overnight, causing deep freezes.

When the temperature peaks above freezing during the day, the accumulation of ice will weaken and break off one piece at a time.

How You Can Be Injured By Falling Ice

Falling ice can cause a number of serious injuries, depending on where the ice strikes. One common occurrence is when ice falls from a building and strikes a car.

In that case, the driver can be injured either from being hit by the ice directly or from the shattered glass from the car’s windshield.

In addition, being hit by falling ice while driving can cause the driver to lose control of their car and have a car accident.

Being Struck Directly By Falling Ice

The maximum speed at which ice can fall is making it incredibly dangerous. The laws of physics say that falling ice can reach speeds of 60-70 miles per hour.

Even when it falls from less tall buildings, it can reach a significant fraction of this speed. All it takes is a fall from about 15 building stories for ice to reach its full speed.

At the very minimum, someone walking on a sidewalk who is struck by ice will suffer serious cuts and lacerations depending on where it hits them.

If they are struck in the head, it can cause a traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion or permanent brain damage.

Slip and Fall Injuries from Falling Ice

A building owner may also be held liable when ice falls from a building onto a sidewalk or path.

Even if snow has already been cleared, chunks of ice on the sidewalk can melt and refreeze or make the person’s path slippery.

If a buildup of ice on the sidewalk has been caused by ice that falls from a building, some of these same rules of liability may apply.

Injuries in Falling Ice Cases

Here are some common injuries that accident victims can suffer in falling ice cases:

  • Fractures from being struck directly
  • Sprains and fractures from falls
  • Brain injuries if hit in the head
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Car accident injuries if the falling ice caused a crash

More Reasons to Sue Property Owners

A property owner is responsible for snow and ice removal. When it snows

Here are some other reasons why accident victims will sue property owners:

Pedestrians can slip on clear ice on sidewalks and in parking lots. A fall on ice can cause serious injuries. Fall cases involve broken bones and possible traumatic brain injuries.

People can suffer from a fall accident when the property owner has failed to clear snow and ice within the time required by law from a parking lot or sidewalk

How Courts Have Viewed Snow or Ice Cases

The general rule in Illinois courts is that building owners are not legally liable for falling ice when it has accumulated due to natural causes.

They would not be expected to clear every inch of their surfaces, especially those that may be hundreds of feet in the air.

In the case of Bloom v. Bistro Restaurant Limited Partnership, an appellate court stated the legal rule that applies to falling ice.

In this case, the court held that building owners would be legally responsible when icicles fall due to an unnatural accumulation of ice.

Natural accumulation would be that which piles up on any usual building. An unnatural accumulation could result from the following:

  • A defective design of the building
  • Defective building construction
  • Improper maintenance of the building

Architects must be careful when they design the building that there is not a crevice or cranny that could lead to large buildups of ice and snow.

More commonly, building owners may be found liable for falling ice because of maintenance issues with their gutters or downspouts.

The owner should check their drainage before the winter to ensure that there are no backups that could cause buildups of ice.

Falling Ice May Become More of a Problem

Falling ice has been a problem as long as there have been tall buildings. Recent changes in building design increase the risk that passerby can be injured by falling icicles.

Buildings have nooks and crannies that can trap ice. Now, the move towards energy-efficient buildings means that they will retain heat on the inside.

This heat would be necessary to melt the ice on the exterior of the building, but it remains trapped inside as owners are seeking more environmentally friendly designs.

The Plaintiff Can Show Knowledge of a Dangerous Condition

In McLean vs Rockford Country Club, the court discussed the application of the test from Bloom.

The court held that Bloom does not require that the plaintiff prove a specific defect in the property.

Instead, the plaintiff would just need to show that the building owner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition and did nothing to fix it.

Regardless of how the ice accumulated, the building owner has a duty to provide a safe entrance and exit to the building.

If they know that there are icicles hanging over the entrance, placing people in danger, they can be held liable if they did nothing to clear them.

The Damages That an Injured Party Can Recover from the Property Owner

If you or a loved one have been injured by falling ice, and you can prove that the building owner was legally responsible, you may be entitled to the following types of damages in your case:

  • The full cost of your past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages for the time that you missed from work
  • Pain and suffering damages for the experience that you endured
  • Mental anguish
  • If your loved one died in the accident, your family can seek wrongful death damages

Call Our Law Firm After Fall Accidents

For answers to questions like can you sue when ice falls from a building, you can contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.

We help injured clients with cases such as:

We will work to hold building owners responsible when they fail to exercise reasonable care. We value our attorney-client relationship and will treat your injury claim with the diligence that it deserves.

Call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.