Slip and fall injuries increase due to icy conditions


    Slip and fall injuries increase due to icy conditions. (WWMT/Clayton Springer)

    From roads and highways to sidewalks, the freezing temperatures have been turning everything that thawed earlier this week into ice.

    The city of Kalamazoo says it started to hand out notices Wednesday to homeowners not following the rules when it comes to keeping sidewalks clear.

    Grace Mannion, a Kalamazoo resident, said she became petrified Wednesday morning when she got out of her car.

    "I looked at it, and I thought 'this is an ice skating rink,'" Mannion said.

    She said she couldn't help but worry about falling and getting hurt while she walked out the door to work.

    "This morning my method was taking off my shoes and walk in my socks to my car because my toes could grip," Mannion said.

    According to Bronson Hospital spokesperson Carolyn Wyllie, the hospital's emergency room saw triple the amount of slip and falls admissions Wednesday than it sees on an average day.

    Meanwhile, the city of Kalamazoo reminded property owners to remove snow and ice from nearby sidewalks and alleys, so nobody gets hurt.

    A Kalamazoo ordinance requires the owners or occupants of properties within the city limits to remove snow and ice from any adjacent public sidewalks, walkways and alleys. According to the city ordinance, owners are supposed to clear ice 12 hours, and snow 48 hours, after the storm event ends.

    "It was a total mess, slipperier than grease," Fred Ambs, of Comstock, said.

    People who slip, fall and get hurt would have a hard time recovering monetary damages.

    "The overall law at this point in time is unfair to the people injured," said Jonathan Jilek, a personal injury and wrongful death attorney at Koning & Jilek, P.C.

    Jilek said under Michigan law, property owners who neglect to keep sidewalks clean are typically not legally responsible for injuries incurred on their property.

    Jilek said under the "open and obvious doctrine" “average intelligence” should have discovered the hazardous condition upon casual inspection. If a hazard causing a fall is found to be open and obvious.

    "The courts have interpreted to say, if there's an indication that they're be a slippery condition under foot, you are still responsible for knowing it could be slippery," Jilek said.

    Experts recommend walking on ice by keeping your center of gravity over your front leg, like a penguin.

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