Property owners can prevent slip and fall accidents on ice and snow by clearing snow and ice accumulations, using mats and salt to soak up melted snow, and frequently checking walkways and parking lots for winter-related slip and fall hazards.
Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their properties free of unreasonable dangers. This includes preventing avoidable snow and ice hazards. If a property owner fails to prevent an ice or snow-related injury, they could be liable for the injured person’s medical expenses, lost income, and other damages.
Property Owners’ Duty to Prevent Avoidable Injuries
The owners of restaurants, retail stores, office buildings, apartment complexes, and other types of property are responsible for reducing the risk of injury as much as possible. Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious injuries for employees, customers, and other visitors.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five falls results in a major injury, such as a hip fracture. Fall accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. Broken bones and other serious impairments can also occur.
If a visitor becomes injured because of an unreasonable winter weather-related hazard, the property owner or occupier may be on the hook for damages. These may include the injured person’s medical bills, loss of income, and other expenses.
Properly Maintaining Outside Property During Winter
Snow and ice can present a major risk of injury, especially for children, elder adults, and individuals with disabilities. There is no way to ensure that a property is completely clear of snow and ice at all times, but a good faith effort should be made to keep slip and fall hazards as minimal as possible.
Property and business owners should ensure that areas in which visitors or customers frequently walk are adequately cleared to allow for safe travel. This may require shoveling snow or clearing ice several times a day in some weather conditions.
Areas of particular concern include:
- Parking lots
- Outdoor walkways
- The entrance to the property
- Paths visitors take from the parking lot to the entrance
How Salt May Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents
One way to prevent slip and fall accidents is to add salt to areas that may accumulate ice. The New York State Thruway Authority applies several kinds of ice melt to the roads to make them safer for drivers. If property owners put salt on sidewalks and walkways, this can help prevent areas from freezing over. Salt can also help prevent melted snow or ice from refreezing during temperature fluctuations.
Avoiding Accumulations of Ice
Property owners must take special care to avoid unnatural accumulations of ice from building up outside. There are several ways that dangerous ice and snow accumulations can build up, including when:
- A gutter funnels water onto walkways, which then freezes into ice
- Piles of snow melt in the parking lot and turn into icy areas
- Potholes or uneven pavement in the parking lot collects water, which freezes into patches of ice
- Broken sidewalks create cracks and holes in which ice forms unnaturally
- Clogged roof gutters result in water or slush dripping onto the walkway below, creating ice hazards
Properly Maintaining Inside Property During Winter
Snow and ice can also create major slip and fall hazards inside of a property. Visitors can track snow inside on their shoes, where it then melts. Puddles of snowmelt can also create slippery areas on which a visitor may slip and fall.
Property owners can use absorbent rugs and mats to soak up melted snow at the entrances of buildings. They can also warn visitors about potential slip and fall hazards indoors. “Wet Floor” signs should be placed in the areas in which snowmelt usually accumulates.
Contact Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. if You Suffered a Slip and Fall
If you were hurt in a slip and fall accident caused by property owner negligence, you may be entitled to financial recovery for your injuries. You could recover compensation for medical bills, future medical needs to treat the injury, lost wages from missed work, pain and suffering, and more.
Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. takes personal injury cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you do not have to pay any upfront costs. We only collect a fee if our team secures compensation for your damages.
Contact Rosenberg & Gluck, L.L.P. for a free case evaluation. Call (631) 451-7900 today. We can assist you in either Spanish or English.