With the winter months comes rain, ice, snow, slush, mud, and more. Any of these obstacles on someone’s property can result in a slip-and-fall accident, potentially leading to a personal injury claim.
Property owners – commercial and residential – have a duty of care during winter to mitigate the seasons’ weather hazards as they present themselves. This means they must exercise reasonable care in regularly inspecting and maintaining areas where the public or guests may realistically go. If a property owner fails to fulfill their duty of care, they can be liable for negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
Which Areas Present the Most amount of Risk?
For commercial property owners, it can be their parking lots, sidewalks, and steps. Homeowners should also be concerned about their steps, but also their driveways and any walkways they may have as well. If a winter storm is taking place, property owners are not obligated to maintain these areas and may even wait a reasonable time after the storm ends to clean up.
How Properties Supposed to Be Maintained During Winter?
If you are a commercial property owner, you should take reasonable steps to anticipate the dangers that snow, ice, mud, and slush can present to the public on your property. This may mean contracting with a plow company to remove snow and ice from your parking lot and sidewalks as well as sanding and salting those areas.
If an area is too hazardous to immediately resolve, you should make an effort to block it off and post clear signage warning the public of the danger. It’s also a good idea to lay mats and rugs near the entrances and exits of your property so that people can wipe snow and mud off their boots and reduce the risk of a slip-and-fall accident inside.
A homeowner will want to take many of the same precautions. When snow is anticipated, salt should be put down on driveways, steps, and walkways to mitigate ice and snow buildup. After it snows, these areas should be thoroughly shoveled – and maybe salted again – to create clear, safe paths.
What If I’m Injured Because of a Winter Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If someone failed to clear ice and snow from their property and you became injured as a result of a fall caused by these winter hazards, you may be entitled to compensation from the property owner. Damages won in a lawsuit can include medical costs, prior and future lost wages as well as pain and suffering.