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How businesses put visitors at risk of winter slip-and-falls

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Premises Liability

The area around Washington D.C. can experience very intense winter weather. Snowfall, sleet and ice are issues that local residents and visitors have to address for maximum personal safety. Businesses and property owners also need to have proper protocols in place for inclement winter weather. Those who own property are usually responsible for clearing adjacent sidewalks and any parking facilities they provide.

Unfortunately, it is surprisingly common for executives, owners and managers at companies to ignore or downplay the very serious risks associated with winter weather conditions. Failure to address known safety concerns might culminate in someone getting hurt in a slip-and-fall incident. Businesses may then be liable for the injuries people suffer because of such falls.

A slip-and-fall is a preventable scenario

With certain exceptions for unusual circumstances, appropriate property maintenance can prevent the vast majority of slip-and-fall injuries. Businesses and property owners that make safety a top priority can easily identify and address factors that lead to people falling. For example, they can hire an outside company to provide snow removal for their parking lots and sidewalks. That way, the company does not need to arrange for additional staffing during or after snowfall to handle that often physically demanding task.

Having snow melt products, like special salts, available for near the front entrance and sidewalks is quite important, as is having proper rugs in place near any entrance used by members of the public. Rugs not only need to remain secured in place but may also require cleaning or replacement when they become saturated with snow melt.

Businesses may also need to train their workers to be more proactive about looking for puddling near doors and in aisles during the winter. Failing to address these known risk factors could lead to someone suffering a completely preventable injury. Provided that the person who slips and falls can show that negligent property maintenance caused their incident, they may have grounds for a premises liability lawsuit against the business.

Companies that do not keep their parking lots clear or that do not maintain dry, safe interior spaces may ultimately be financially culpable for any injuries that their inadequate property maintenance causes to others. Recognizing that businesses have a duty of care to patrons and visitors may help people feel comfortable about pursuing a premises liability lawsuit after getting hurt in a slip-and-fall scenario that a business could have prevented.