Years ago, I defended a case for a retailer involving an elderly man who slipped and fell on ice. Being in Chicago, this is not a rare occurrence by any stretch of the imagination, but this case involved significantly higher damages than a typical slip and fall. To help determine an action plan, we reviewed all of the jury verdicts in Cook County involving slip and falls on ice. The purpose of this was to better understand how juries feel about slip and fall cases involving ice, especially those involving elderly plaintiffs.
Fortunately, we never made it to trial because summary judgment was entered in our favor, but the analysis results were very interesting. I recently updated the analysis and since it is still freezing outside and will likely stay that way for some time, I thought you may find the information useful and informative.
Commercial Setting Verdicts
- A total of 60 verdicts involving slip and falls on ice in a commercial setting were reviewed.
- Most of those cases involved parking lots and sidewalks.
- Of those 60 verdicts, 43 were not guilty verdicts and 17 were for the plaintiff.
- In the cases where the plaintiff was awarded damages, the vast majority of those had a contributory negligence finding against the plaintiff which reduced the damages.
- 72% of the commercial cases going to trial for slip and falls on ice resulted in not guilty verdicts.
Residential Setting Verdicts
- A total of 52 verdicts involving slip and falls on ice in residential settings were reviewed.
- Of those 52 verdicts, 37 were not guilty verdicts and 15 were for the plaintiff.
- 79% of the residential cases going to trial for slip and falls on ice resulted in not guilty verdicts.
- In the commercial setting, of the 60 verdicts reviewed, only 6 of the cases involved elderly plaintiffs (over 65 years old). Of those 6 cases, 5 were not guilty verdicts.
- In the residential setting, of the 52 verdicts, only 10 of the cases involved elderly plaintiffs. Of those 10 cases, 6 were not guilty verdicts.
- There were 65 settlements involving slips and falls on ice, and of those, 10 involved elderly plaintiffs.
So What? – Result Of Analysis
This analysis tells us a few things:
- Plaintiffs have a difficult time winning slip and fall on ice cases in Chicago.
- Slip and fall cases involving elderly plaintiffs are not resolved or treated any differently than cases involving non-elderly plaintiffs.
- A review of the specific cases reveals that cases involving a freeze/refreeze and dripping situation, are successful at trial.
It’s not often that defendants can feel comfortable they will win a case in Cook County. However, when it comes to natural accumulation and slip and falls on ice, defendants definitely have the advantage. Keep this in mind when you review new claims because it is in your best interest to fight.