The Proper Pigeonhole

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Q: In my employer’s parking lot, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice.  I have received workers’ compensation, and understand that I cannot sue my employer.  But what about the company that supposedly had plowed this parking lot?  Maybe it did not put down enough salt.

A: Assuming that your employer had entered into a contract with someone to provide snow removal services, the contract does not automatically render the plower liable in tort for the personal injuries of a third party like yourself.

For you to have the benefit of this contract, your attorney generally must prove at least one of the following scenarios.  (1) Failing to exercise reasonable care in the performance of its duties, the plower launched a force or instrument of harm.  (2) You relied to your detriment on the continued performance of the plower’s duties.  (3) The plower had entirely displaced your employer’s duty to maintain the premises safely.

If you do not quite understand what I mean by these three possibilities, you are not alone.  Often, the courts too must struggle with the concepts, in relation to the case at hand.  This leaves much to the skill of your attorney in fitting the case into the proper pigeonhole.

Often, your attorney will succeed with the first category: by showing that the plower had launched a force or instrument of harm – e.g. by piling snow on the side of the lot and then failing to move that snow even further away.  Your attorney will marshal evidence that then the temperature rose enough for the snow to melt, and the water flowed out to the spot of your fall, where it refroze to become the black ice that you slipped on.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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