White Christmas Meltdown Refreeze Causes Hills and Ridges - Protect Yourself Urges Pennsylvania Premises Liability Lawyer
The Pennsylvania hills and ridges doctrine holds that an owner of land is not liable for slippery conditions resulting from ice or snow unless he or she permitted the ice and snow to unreasonably accumulate in uneven elevations - small ridges and hills of frozen snow or ice. In order to prove a landowner’s liability, the plaintiff must first prove that the snow and ice accumulated on the sidewalk or roadway in ridges or elevations of such size and character as to unreasonably obstruct travel and create danger. If the snow has freshly fallen and is relatively undisturbed or there is smooth ice that is undisturbed and an injury is caused, the landowner may not be liable even if that person is a business invitee.
The hills and ridges doctrine recognizes the fact and responds to the situation that a landowner cannot be responsible continuously for ice and snow if he did not have a reasonable opportunity to correct the situation. The hills and ridges doctrine provides protection to persons in control of the property on which the slip and fall occurs on ice or snow. However, there is some confusion as to the applicability of the hills and ridges defense which is only available when the snow was caused by a natural accumulation of ice or snow. To establish liability upon the landowner, a claimant must prove each of the following elements were present:
1. The ice and snow had accumulated on the sidewalk or walking surfaces and ridges or elevations that are unreasonably obstructed to travel or a danger to persons traveling on the walk.
2. That the defendant property owner knew or should have known of the existence of such conditions.
3. That it was a dangerous accumulation of ice and snow that caused the plaintiff to fall.
The first essential is commonly known as the hills and ridges doctrine. This doctrine protects an owner or occupier of land from liability for “generally slippery conditions resulting from ice or snow where the owner has not permitted the ice and snow to unreasonably accumulate in ridges or elevations." In theory, the law states it is unfair to require that one’s walkway always be free of ice or snow which would impose an impossible burden in view of climatic conditions in Pennsylvania.