Just because the snow is falling and the temperatures are below freezing does not mean you get to stay in your warm and cozy home. You may have to go to work, get the groceries or finish your shopping for the holidays. When the weather turns slick, you have to rely on Missouri business owners and property managers to take care of things so you can walk without fearing you will take a spill.
Even if you should slip on an icy sidewalk, you may be fortunate enough to get up with little more than a twisted ankle or a bruise on your backside. Unfortunately, there is also the chance that you could suffer a serious, disabling injury.
Winter fall hazards
Ground level falls, especially those taken when a surface is slippery, can cause traumatic injuries, including bone fractures, spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Property owners who fail to keep their parking lots, sidewalks and stairs clear and dry may be responsible if you suffer injuries in a fall. However, the steps a property or business owner takes to protect you must include preparations that happen long before winter weather begins, including:
- Filling in holes and removing objects that may become tripping hazards when covered with snow
- Establishing a system for dealing with snowfall and ice, before, during and after the weather event
- Having parking lots and sidewalks as clear as possible before employees and customers arrive, even if it means delaying opening
- Being especially careful to treat slopes, ramps and stairs where the most serious injuries often occur
Parking lots are particularly hazardous during winter, especially if a property owner does not pretreat or waits too long to plow. For maximum effectiveness, a property owner should arrange for snow removal when one inch has fallen and periodically after that. If a property owner allows more snow to accumulate, it risks a buildup of ice, especially if the snow removal crew uses a de-icer. You may not be able to see ice on a parking lot, and one step in a patch of ice can send you to the hard ground quickly.
Come in out of the cold
Stepping into a commercial building or retail establishment often means walking on floors made of concrete, vinyl or hardwood, all of which become slippery when wet. People walking in from the snowy outside are likely to drag water in on their feet, leaving the floors slick and dangerous. If the property owner does not address this hazard with adequate mats, signs and maintenance protocol, you may suffer injuries as a result of a fall.
Whether inside or outside, slipping on a slick surface is a risk you face when winter weather hits. If property owners fail to account for the possibility that their snowy or icy surfaces may result in injury, you may have cause for seeking compensation based on negligence.