Snow and Ice Removal: Slip and Fall Accidents

Posted on Jan 16, 2018
Snow and Ice Removal: Slip and Fall Accidents

As winter approaches, it’s a good idea to have reminders of your rights and responsibilities, according to the law, for protecting other people from hazards on your property. Whether you rent or own a home or commercial property, you have specific responsibilities that need to be addressed.

You are legally responsible for the condition of your property – for ensuring that your property doesn’t become a hazard to others. Even if you don’t entertain a lot of guests, chances are that your home has a public sidewalk. It is also likely that you do, on occasion, receive postal deliveries, have utility workers drop by, and you may even need repairs for your furnace, appliances, etc. once in a while. The rules of law for businesses and commercial property are even more stringent.

The better you understand the laws concerning legal liability and your responsibilities, the better prepared you will be to avoid potential liability issues. Especially those that are related to snow and ice removal and preventing slip and fall accidents on your property in winter and beyond.

Your Responsibilities for Preventing Slip and Fall Accidents

One interesting point to note is that the law has different expectations of commercial properties than it does for single-family residential properties and their owners. As a result, there are different laws regarding the responsibilities of each to take active steps to prevent slips and falls.

Business Responsibilities

Owners and managers of commercial properties, for instance, are required to take measures to prevent accidental injuries on their properties. What types of properties qualify as commercial properties?

  • Hotels
  • Apartments
  • Businesses
  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants
  • Office Buildings

Not only are you required to remove the hazards, in this case, snow and ice, but also to post warnings concerning slippery floors from melting snow and ice that may be tracked into buildings. Since the water also presents a slip and fall hazard, you can be legally responsible if your customers slip and fall, resulting in injuries.

What you may not realize is that more than one person or entity may be held responsible if slip and fall injuries occur on your property.

Even if your rent your commercial property from someone else, you may be responsible, along with the owner of the property, for maintaining your sidewalks to prevent injuries. Another critical point to remember is that even if you hire a company to handle the snow and ice removal on your behalf, you can still be held responsible, along with the contracted business, if they do the job poorly and someone is injured as a result.

The state of New Jersey (and most other states) want businesses and property owners to take the safety of their patrons seriously, and laws like this ensure that you do your due diligence to prevent accidents and injuries on your property.

Renter and Homeowner Responsibilities

While homeowners in New Jersey are not typically responsible for warning others about the potential for injuries on their property, or from injuries related to slips and falls, you may be found liable if your actions caused the conditions to worsen or increased the risks to visitors in any way.

Some municipalities within the state of New Jersey have ordinances and laws, beyond state laws, in place that do require you to remove the snow within a reasonable amount of time to prevent these types of accidents. If you live in those cities, you may be held legally liable for injuries that occur on your property and face penalties from the community if your property is reported.

Protecting Yourself, Your Home, and Your Business

Taking steps to prevent slip and fall accidents on your property is the first step toward protecting yourself from the financial disaster slip, and fall accidents can bring to families and businesses. But, no matter how careful you are to prevent accidents from occurring, no method will stop all possible accidents on your property.

The crucial second step you need to take is to make sure you have adequate liability protection in case an accident occurs, or an accusation is made against you or your business. AccuWeather warns that the standard one million dollar liability policy is going to be insufficient to cover a multi-million dollar injury – and they are right. You need to make sure you have adequate protection to meet the needs of your business should they go beyond the standard insurance liability protection.

Call Otterstedt Insurance Agency today at 201-227-1800 today and let us examine your current coverage to see if changes need to be made so that you have the protection you deserve. We will work with you to come up with a plan of protection that offers reasonable protection when patrons are injured on your property for a variety of reasons including slip and fall accidents from snow and ice on your premises.

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