What to Do When You Slip and Fall on Ice in Wisconsin?
Originally published January 3, 2022. Updated August 17, 2023.
In Wisconsin, the winter months require business owners and residents to be diligent about clearing walkways and sidewalks to keep pedestrians safe. That’s because a slip and fall on ice can result in serious soft tissue injuries, broken bones, and back or spinal cord injuries.
Of course, even when caution is exercised, these kinds of accidents happen on a regular basis. If you have experienced an injury as a result of a slip and fall due to someone else’s negligence, follow these steps to get the compensation you deserve.
The Importance of Documenting the Fall
It is essential to have evidence that legally supports your side of the story about where and when the incident happened, what caused the fall, and what injuries you suffered.
Following these steps can help you properly document your injury and help your lawyer win your case.
Step 1: Gather Evidence of the Dangerous Condition That Caused Your Fall
Whether your fall was on public or privately owned land, you need to prove that ice was present and the property owner or manager knew the conditions were unsafe. Take photos and videos of the ground where you fell. If there were eyewitnesses, talk with them and get their contact information. They can corroborate your story if necessary for your claim.
Step 2: Report the Accident
If you fell on a business’s property, such as a store or restaurant, you need to report the fall to the manager or owner and ask for a copy of the accident report. This creates a paper trail of the incident.
It’s also a good idea to create a paper trail if you fall on residential property, such as a rental property.Notifying the landlord of your injuries via email and/or letter creates evidence when suing for damages later.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention
Beyond addressing the injuries sustained from your fall, visiting your doctor ensures the injuries appear on your official medical record. You can use your medical bills and any receipts for medications related to the injury to prove what your claim is worth when suing for economic damages. Do not delay visiting the doctor, because this may cast doubt on the legitimacy of your injury claim.
If your case goes to trial, a doctor may also act as an expert witness regarding your medical condition and how much treatment you needed or will need after the accident.
Step 4: Contact an Attorney
The process of getting compensation for your fall is complicated, and insurance agencies will work hard to reduce the amount you receive.
Consult our Appleton slip and fall lawyers if you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a fall on public or private land. We can help you navigate proving liability and the differences between falls on public and private property.
How to Prove the Property Owner is Liable
In a slip and fall case, you and your lawyer need to prove that another party is liable for the incident. This means they are responsible for your injury on their property. You and your attorney will need to prove that there was a duty of care and that it was breached.
To demonstrate this, you’ll need evidence that the property owner was aware of the hazard and failed to fix it within a reasonable time. Or you must prove that the property owner should’ve been aware the hazard existed and failed to correct the problem.
Wisconsin operates under a comparative negligence law that requires those liable for injuries to pay out an amount in accordance with their level of liability. That means slip and fall victims might be found partially responsible for their own injury, but as long as the property owner is considered at least 51% at fault, the slip and fall victim can still get compensation. However, the property owner won’t have to pay as much if the injury victim was partially at fault.
Commercial Property Liability
If the slip and fall occurred on a business’ property, it is easier to prove the property owner’s liability. Companies must provide a safe environment for employees and visitors. This means you have to prove they did not take reasonable actions toward providing a safe environment and they knew of the unsafe conditions that led to your injury.
Private Property Liability
When a slip and fall injury happens on private personal property, like a neighbor’s home, it is harder for an injured person to prove the property owner is liable.
Private property owner duties are different from a commercial property’s responsibility to provide a safe environment. This difference creates stricter burdens of proof for the plaintiff. The injured party must demonstrate:
- The duty of care the property owner had
- That it was breached
- Causation (how the defendant’s negligence caused harm)
- The resulting damages that occurred
However, property owners cannot be held liable for injuries that a trespasser suffers while on their property. When someone is unlawfully on your land, Wisconsin property owners only have a duty to refrain from willful and intentional injury.
This means they cannot be held responsible for accidents when they did not agree to allow the injured party on their property.
Public Property Liability
If you sustained a slip and fall injury on public lands, like a sidewalk, then the city or state government may be liable. The timeline for pursuing damages in a case like this is extremely short, so you need to seek legal representation immediately to protect your rights. You must provide written notice that you intend to sue within 120 days or risk forfeiting your claim.
Wisconsin Slip and Fall Lawyers
At Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we provide legal representation for anyone unlawfully injured. No one should be financially responsible for the negligence of another party. Contact our law firm for a free case review if you sustain a slip and fall injury on someone else’s property or government land.