For the most part, the climate in the greater Seattle area is relatively mild. Given its location compared to other parts of the country, the weather patterns lead to relatively mild winter weather in the greater Seattle area most of the time.
However, occasionally, the local climate takes a turn for the worse. That is exactly what happened during the ice storm that recently rocked the city right before Christmas in 2022, which experts have declared the worst ice storm in the region in the last 10 years.
Obviously, with Seattle lacking adequate infrastructure to address snow on the roads, there was some concern about car crashes. However, pedestrians and possibly cyclists who chose to brave the weather or travel before the roads were clear again were among those who paid the highest price.
Why ice storms are a safety issue
Many people walk to work or bike in Seattle already, and quite a few people chose to do so during the storm so they weren’t at elevated risk of a car crash. Unfortunately, walking may have proven just as dangerous as slippery sidewalks may not have received the appropriate maintenance from businesses and property owners during or after the storm.
According to reports from local emergency rooms, which saw dozens of people with weather-related injuries, slip-and-falls on ice were responsible for roughly half of the people seeking care during or right after the storm. If people didn’t apply salt to melt the ice or otherwise seek to remove the frozen precipitation as it developed on the pavement, pedestrians who crossed that section of sidewalk may have been at elevated risk of slipping and falling.
The possibility of falling on icy sidewalk is dangerous in itself. People can break bones or suffer brain injuries. Beyond that, there is also the risk of a pedestrian or cyclist slipping into the road and ending up hit by a vehicle. Property owners typically need to maintain their facilities in a way that will minimize the risk of people getting hurt. That includes appropriately addressing snow and ice when it does pile up so that no one gets hurt in a preventable slip-and-fall incident.
What can help injured pedestrians
Someone who fell on another person’s property may have grounds for a premises liability claim. Many businesses carry insurance that will compensate those hurt on a company’s premises. Additionally, homeowner’s insurance will also typically cover the injuries someone would suffer in a slip-and-fall incident, including property damage expenses and medical bills related to physical injuries.
Occasionally, especially if someone suffers a brain injury or a similar, severe medical consequence because of a property owner’s failure to safely maintain their premises, a civil lawsuit may be necessary for the person hurt to fully recoup their losses. Recognizing when you may be in a position to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit can help ensure that those responsible for your injuries are the ones paying for your costs after an injury caused by an unsafe property.