Skip to Content
Call Us Today! 732-709-4400

Common Causes of Winter Slip & Fall Accidents


Winter is a season of beauty, with its glistening snowscapes and the charm of holiday festivities. However, it also brings with it a host of safety concerns, particularly when it comes to navigating icy sidewalks and slippery roads. Slip-and-fall accidents are prevalent during the winter months, and they can lead to serious injuries.

Here are some of the common causes of winter slip-and-fall accidents:

1. Icy Walkways

One of the most obvious culprits of winter slip-and-fall accidents is icy walkways. When temperatures drop below freezing, any moisture on the ground can freeze, creating treacherous conditions. This includes sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. Even a thin layer of ice can be extremely slippery, making it easy for pedestrians to lose their footing and fall.

Prevention tip: To reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents on icy walkways, it's essential to keep them clear of snow and ice. Shoveling snow promptly after a snowfall and applying salt or sand to melt ice can go a long way in maintaining safe footing. Additionally, wearing footwear with good traction can help you stay steady on slippery surfaces.

2. Snow-Covered Stairs

Snow-covered stairs pose a significant risk during the winter season. Whether it's the steps leading to your front door or those at a commercial building, they can become dangerously slippery when covered in snow and ice. Climbing or descending stairs in these conditions can be precarious, and accidents are common.

Prevention tip: Clear snow from your stairs regularly and apply salt to melt ice. Make sure the handrails are sturdy and use them for support while navigating the steps. When climbing or descending stairs, take your time and ensure each step is clear of snow or ice before moving forward.

3. Wet Floors Indoors

While we often think of slip and fall accidents as occurring outdoors, they can happen just as easily inside buildings, especially during the winter. As people enter from the cold, they may bring moisture inside their shoes, leading to wet floors in entryways and other high-traffic areas. These wet floors can be just as slippery as icy sidewalks.

Prevention tip: Place absorbent mats near entrances to capture moisture and reduce the risk of wet floors. Also, post signs to alert people to potential hazards and encourage them to be cautious when entering or exiting buildings. Promptly clean up any spills or wet areas to maintain a safe indoor environment.

4. Poor Lighting

Inadequate lighting can exacerbate the risk of slip and fall accidents during the winter. Dimly lit walkways and stairs can make it challenging to identify and avoid icy patches or other hazards. When visibility is reduced, accidents are more likely to occur.

Prevention tip: Install adequate outdoor lighting to illuminate walkways and staircases. This not only enhances safety but also discourages potential trespassers. For indoor spaces, maintain good lighting levels and promptly replace any burnt-out bulbs.

5. Unsalted Public Areas

Businesses and municipalities have a responsibility to keep public areas safe during the winter months. Failing to salt or sand sidewalks, parking lots, and other high-traffic areas can lead to a higher risk of slip-and-fall accidents.

Prevention tip: If you're a property owner, ensure that you have a snow and ice removal plan in place. This includes salting and sanding as needed to maintain safe conditions. If you're a pedestrian, be cautious when walking in areas that appear neglected or poorly maintained.

6. Improper Snow Removal Techniques

When shoveling or plowing snow, it's essential to use proper techniques. Clearing snow haphazardly can leave uneven surfaces and create areas where ice can form, increasing the risk of slip-and-fall accidents.

Prevention tip: Learn and use safe snow removal techniques to clear driveways and walkways. This includes shoveling in a way that avoids creating uneven surfaces and being cautious with snowblowers or plows to prevent accidents.

7. Black Ice

Black ice is a nearly invisible layer of ice that forms on surfaces, making it challenging for pedestrians and drivers to detect. This type of ice is particularly dangerous because it's often not apparent until you step onto it.

Prevention tip: Be cautious when walking in areas prone to black ice, such as shaded spots or areas with poor drainage. If you suspect the presence of black ice, take slow, deliberate steps and use handrails if available.

Remember, property owners–including homeowners, business owners, and landlords–have a legal obligation to maintain safe premises. If they fail to clear snow and ice, fix broken handrails, or address other hazardous conditions on their property, they may be held liable.

If you do experience a slip-and-fall accident, don't hesitate to contact Palmisano & Goodman, P.A. for legal assistance. We are here to help you every step of the way.