With snow starting to fall more frequently and temperatures staying below freezing most days, icy conditions increase the risk of a slip or fall injury. The most common places for slips or falls to occur during winter are much the same as during the rest of the year, with parking lots and sidewalks outside businesses becoming even more hazardous.
If you've been injured after slipping on a patch of ice in a store's parking lot and are considering claiming damages, you may be wondering whether the store is liable for your injury. After all, they can't control the weather, can they?
It's highly unlikely that they can, but businesses still have a duty to provide safe premises for anyone allowed on to their property. This responsibility extends to taking reasonable precautions to minimize the risk to customers or visitors of injuries that may result from adverse weather conditions.
In general, a business owner is not legally required to remove snow or ice that builds up outside their premises due to naturally-occurring weather conditions. At the same time, members of the public are expected to exercise reasonable care when walking in an area that they know, or expect, to be hazardous due to ice or snow.
However, if an unnatural accumulation of snow or ice occurs outside a business, the property owner may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result of a slip or fall. This may involve a large sheet of ice that forms in a pothole that was not filled in, a slippery entryway covered in slush that has not been cleared, or an uneven sidewalk covered in snow that has fallen from a broken gutter.
While premises owners are not responsible for the weather, they are still responsible for the safety of those who they allow to access their property. If you think that a property owners' negligence may be to blame for your slip or fall injury, an experienced personal injury attorney should be your first point of contact.