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Texas Premises Liability Cases Involving Accumulations of Snow and Ice

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Texas premises liability case discussing when a landowner can be held liable for injuries caused on their property by accumulations of snow or ice. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to establish that her slip-and-fall accident was the result of an “unnatural” accumulation, and thus the court affirmed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the defense.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured when she fell on a patch of ice as she was walking into a shopping mall. Evidently, the plaintiff arrived at the mall two days after a winter storm had left several inches of snow on the ground. The plaintiff parked her car in the mall parking lot, exited her vehicle, and began to approach the entrance. As the plaintiff was walking up a sloped pedestrian walkway, she fell and landed on a patch of ice. After her fall, the plaintiff noticed that there was a grainy substance, either sand or deicer, on the ground. The plaintiff also saw that there was a pile of snow at the top of the sloped ramp.

The mall filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that under Texas law a landowner is not liable for injuries caused by the natural accumulation of snow on their property. The plaintiff claimed that by piling the snow at the top of the ramp and by applying sand or a deicer, what may have been initially a natural accumulation of snow became unnatural.

The Court’s Decision

The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument and affirmed summary judgment in favor of the mall. The court explained that the defendant was correct in noting that a landowner cannot be liable for another’s injuries that were caused by a natural accumulation of snow or ice. The court explained that an unnatural accumulation is one that is brought about by something other than inclement weather conditions. However, citing previously decided cases, the court explained that “salting, shoveling, or applying a chemical deicer to a natural ice accumulation does not transform it into an unnatural one.” The court reasoned that to hold otherwise would discourage landowners from attempting to make their property safer for visitors. Thus, the court rejected the plaintiff’s appeal and affirmed summary judgment in favor of the mall.

Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Texas slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. At the San Antonio personal injury law firm of Carabin Shaw, we represent injury victims across Texas in all types of personal injury cases, including Texas slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation against the parties responsible for your injuries, call 800-862-1260 to schedule a free consultation today.

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