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Government Immune From Snow Lawsuit

Although a fall over a pile of shoveled snow does not sound deadly, it was for a woman at a Chicago Park District facility. She fell, broke her leg, suffered complications, and died. To make matters worse, her family cannot recover from the government because the Illinois Supreme Court found that the snow was a "condition of any public property," making the Park District immune from her lawsuit.

The government has long been immune from injuries caused by natural accumulations of snow, but could be liable for injuries caused by "unnatural" accumulations, such as the pile of snow in the Park District's parking lot. However, another provision of the law makes the government immune from suits complaining about a "condition of any public property." The court found this section applied and, because it made no distinction between natural and unnatural conditions, the fact the snow was shoveled into a pile was irrelevant.

Distinguishing the case from an earlier decision involving an injury on a hay ride, the court found that an injury is attributable to a "condition" when it is caused by the property itself, rather than an activity on the property. The snow was naturally present so it was a "condition," even though it had been moved from where it fell. Because it was a condition, the government was not liable for the woman's death even though snow is not always present on its property, and even if the government was negligent in how it piled up the snow.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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