• Strong Law

Property owner could be liable if you fall into an icy lake

With winter here, lots of people want to head out to local lakes and try their hands at ice skating in the natural environment. Most property owners with ponds make sure to put up signs that state how deep the water is or that there is no trespassing allowed, in an attempt to limit liability in the case that someone gets hurt on their properties.

Negligence usually doesn't apply to cases where facilities do not allow ice skating on bodies of water, but it can. For instance, if the pond is not fenced in and there are no signs forbidding people from ice skating, then the property owner may be liable if someone skates on the pond and falls though the ice.

Before you decide to go ice skating, remember that the temperatures don't necessarily dictate how safe it is to do so. Other factors like the depth of the lake, how long the temperatures have been below freezing and how far below freezing temperatures have been will dictate how much of the lake is covered with ice and how thick that ice is.

What happens if someone falls through ice?

Falling through the ice is immediately an emergency situation. If someone can't get out, it's only a short matter of time before hypothermia sets in. Clothing gets heavy when wet, which makes it harder for people to get out of the water once they fall in.

As hypothermia sets in,your heart rate accelerates, which then makes you hyperventilate. In this state, it's extremely difficult to help yourself out of a potentially life-threatening situation.

Keep yourself safe this winter by avoiding skating on natural ponds or man-made lakes. If you do decide to skate on a lake, look for clear ice or ice with bubbles and avoid that area. Those are signs that you could fall though and put your life in danger.

Property owners have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment on their land and in their buildings. If you have suffered harm as the result of a property owner's negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. Speak with a personal injury attorney to learn about your legal options.

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