Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Is walking riskier in the winter?

Everyone knows winter in Wisconsin is no joke. While the snow and ice add layers of difficulty to driving, few tend to realize the consistent hazards that pedestrians face getting about on foot.

Walking in winter is a necessity for everyone, but there are risks that you should keep in mind if you find yourself on foot. And we mean more than just the cold.

Winter walking hazards

When on foot, a person may find themselves struggling in the winter, when carrying something or when trying to get to a destination quickly. With your mind on something else you may simply not be ready for such problems as:

  • Unshoveled walks: Heaps of snow are – on their own – not often considered extremely hazardous. Yet, snow can still be slippery, and you can still get an injury from a fall on a snowy surface.
  • Ice patches: Even a perfectly shoveled walkway can still be a danger and falling on ice doesn’t have the potential cushion of snow. Often ice is thin enough that quickly identifying it is hard. At night, an ice patch is near to invisible.
  • Concealed hazards: Snow can also hide open holes, broken sidewalks and other dangerous conditions. Many have walked across a snowy patch that looks safe only to find it deeper than it appeared and seriously injure themselves.
  • Drivers losing control: The biggest hazard to walkers in Wisconsin may not be the ice and snow, but drivers. If a driver does not take appropriate steps, they are likely to be out of control and dangerous to people on the roads – and the sidewalks.

The hazards to pedestrians in the winter are obvious, but securing compensation can be difficult if a person receives an injury in an accident.

Complex liability questions

Although many municipalities require owners to remove snow quickly from public walks, the law generally holds the municipality responsible for snow clearing on public spaces. That said, snow removal duties on private property is still with the property owner.

If you add the involvement of an out-of-control car to a pedestrian injury, you have an extremely tangled legal thread.

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