When the winter rears its ugly head, plenty of issues can arise for property owners when it comes to premises liability. Between wet leaves, snow, ice, sleet, and rain, visitors to properties can easily get hurt if the property is not kept in good condition. In today’s post, we will discuss what you need to know about premises liability for the winter months.
Duty of Reasonable Care
Property owners owe visitors to their property a duty of reasonable care under the circumstances. When a property owner does not provide a duty of reasonable care to visitors, he or she could be held liable for any injuries sustained during the visit to the property. Negligence is a breach of the duty owed to someone when it can foreseeably cause harm.
Snow and Ice Cause Major Problems
Property owners are responsible for removing snow and ice from their property in a timely manner so as not to allow any visitors to suffer injuries while on the property. If a visitor to a property suffers an injury, negligence can be proven based on how long the snow or ice was present on the property before the accident happening.
For example, in most states, there is something called “natural accumulation.” Many property owners will not be held liable when “natural accumulation” occurs. This is when a storm is actively dumping snow or ice on an area.
However, once the storm has passed, the property owner has the responsibility to remove the snow and ice that has fallen on his or her property within a reasonable amount of time. In most cases, it is up to the judge to determine what the reasonable amount of time is in the case.
Improper Removal of Snow or Ice
Another issue that can arise during the winter months is that of improper removal of snow or ice. For example, a property owner might shovel or plow the snow off the sidewalks or stairs, but puts it in an area that creates a hindrance or trap. When this occurs, the property owner could be held liable for any injuries that occur due to the improper removal of the snow.
Property owners that know of a repeating issue on their property might be held liable for any injuries sustained if he or she does not take care of the repeating issue. An example of a repeating issue, is if there is a drain spout that empties onto a heavily traveled sidewalk.
In the winter months, that sidewalk will be prone to icy conditions. The property owner should know this and be prepared to deal with it by throwing down salt or breaking up the ice with a pick or shovel to prevent injuries.
In this type of incident, the property owner can be held liable for not doing anything to improve the area in question.
Have you been injured while visiting someone else’s property? If so, Attorney Seth Gladstein of the Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC can help. Call the firm today or fill out the contact form. We will get back to you within 24 hours to discuss the next steps in your case.