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Slip and fall accidents increase in winter, and rightfully so: This time of year, ice and snow accumulate, and when they’re not cleared from the front of a building, sidewalk, or parking lot, they turn into a significant safety hazard.

Around your home or business, what could potentially turn into a slip and fall hazard this time of year?

Ice and Snow

blog-elderly-fallThe most obvious, ice and snow make the ground slick; as a result, those walking along may lose traction and fall. These could come with a simple and standard snowfall, or in a less typical scenario, the ice may drip off from a roof and form a puddle on the ground, which freezes over. Along with ice and snow, sleet and rain pose similar hazards.

But, with these conditions, there’s a difference between “natural” and “unnatural” accumulation. Where is the line drawn? Much of it involves how the homeowner reacts to the precipitation:

  • Is the snow or ice packed on the pavement, indicating snow removal after multiple storms hasn’t been performed?
  • Is there a frozen puddle that doesn’t look like it’s from a typical snowfall, such as snow that melted off a roof, froze onto the pavement below, and was never salted or cleared?
  • After a heavy snowstorm, are large piles creating an obstruction or uneven surface?
  • Is there snow or ice accumulation along steps or railings?
  • Is the parking lot’s or pavement’s surface uneven, resulting in greater ice or snow accumulation in one area?

While the property owner has less liability if the injury stems from natural accumulation, unnatural accumulation shows that the property owner, municipality, or contracted plowing company isn’t meeting the standard duty of care owed to pedestrians, visitors, and customers.

Darkness

Nightfall arrives earlier in winter. Because of this, your parking lot and exterior need to be properly lit. Otherwise, pedestrians could trip over less visible cracks, uneven pavement, and potholes.

Snow Tracked Indoors

Especially when you own a business seeing a high volume of customers, you should have a plan in place to clean up any snow and water tracked indoors. Otherwise, this action and negligence combine to create a slippery surface. What might result in a slip and fall?

  • Puddles of water by the doorway and in your store.
  • No rug or mat to wipe off wet boots and shoes.
  • No cleanup procedure in place.
  • Mats are used but they aren’t slip and skid resistant

Even with these hazards, customers, plaintiffs, and any other individuals on your premises should proceed with care:

  • Wear proper footwear, preferably boots or shoes with traction.
  • Take small steps on the ground – and don’t run.
  • Avoid ice and other slippery surfaces.
  • Don’t carry heavy loads when you can’t clearly see the pavement in front of you.

Slips and falls may result in more than a minor scrape or bruise. We recommend that if you are hurt, you should seek medical attention, as serious falls may lead to fractures, broken bones, spinal cord, and brain injuries – some of which may leave an individual permanently disabled. If this happens to you or a loved one, it’s important to document the scene and hazards, also, if there is a witness of the incident, to obtain their information. Make sure to take photos to show where the slip and fall took place, and condition of walkway, weather, and surrounding area.

If you’re recovering from a slip and fall injury and are now experiencing mounting medical bills and missed work, you may have a claim. Contact any of our Connecticut locations to speak with an experienced premises liability lawyer today.