Court Determines School’s Efforts to Melt Snow in Parking Lot Did Not Increase the Chance of Student’s Slip-and-Fall Accident

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a premises liability case that required the court to determine if a school could be held liable in a case in which a student slipped and fell on a patch of ice that formed after the school applied snow-melt in the immediate area. Ultimately, the court concluded that while the school’s actions did alter the natural state of the snow on its property, there was no evidence suggesting that the school’s actions increased the risk of an accident. Thus, the case against the school was dismissed.

Icy Weather

A Student Playing on an Ice Patch Slips and Falls

A student at the defendant middle school was playing on a patch of ice with some friends when he fell, chipping a tooth and fracturing his nose. The boy’s parents filed a premises liability lawsuit against the school, arguing that the school should be held liable for his injuries because it negligently allowed the ice patch to form.

The school moved for summary judgment, explaining that the snow or ice is cleared by school employees each morning. Evidence also showed that school employees applied snow-melt to the parking lot in order to get the snow and ice in the parking lot to melt. The school argued that it should not be held liable for the natural accumulation of snow or ice on the property.

The trial court agreed with the school and granted summary judgment in its favor. The boy’s parents then appealed to a higher court, arguing that by applying snow-melt to the parking lot, the school altered the natural state of the snow or ice and could no longer use the natural-accumulation theory as a defense.

The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the school. The court explained that whether the school’s actions altered the state of the snow or ice was not the only relevant question; it also must be determined if the school’s actions worsened the condition, increasing the risk of an accident. The court explained that the plaintiffs failed to submit any evidence – other than argument – that the application of snow-melt increased the danger of an accident. Thus, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured on the property of another party, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Virginia slip-and-fall lawsuit. The skilled injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Virginia law firm of Charles B. Roberts & Associates have decades of collective experience assisting their injured clients in seeking the compensation they deserve. Through diligent and zealous representation, we seek to obtain full and fair compensation for our clients’ injuries. Call 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney today.

See More Blog Posts:

Proof of Causation Is Imperative in Virginia Slip-and-Fall Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 22, 2017.

Hotel Chain May Be Liable for Punitive Damages after Shower Door “Explodes”, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 1, 2017.