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Premises liability: What causes outdoor slips and falls?

| Feb 25, 2020 | Firm News |

Wintertime can be a fun part of the year for people of all ages. Many participate in outdoor activities despite the colder temperatures. Some people even prefer cooler weather as they go about their normal routine.

However, a dangerous outdoor slip and fall can happen at any time of year. It is very easy to slip and fall on a slick sidewalk here in Pennsylvania, particularly if a home or business owner hasn’t properly removed the ice. Other times of year present different potential dangers for pedestrians. If you know what to look out for, you can potentially protect your family from a slip and fall at any time of the year.

Cause: Ice and snow

This is a common reason for slips and falls but only happens during colder months. However, property and business owners aren’t expected to remove ice and snow when it is there simply due to weather. If they do, they must do so correctly and safely.

When an owner becomes liable

If the ice or snow accumulation is due to the owner failing to safely maintain the property, then he or she can be held liable. For example, if the property has a clogged drain that prevents melted snow from properly draining away, it can freeze over. If a person suffers injuries slipping and falling on that ice, the owner may be liable.

Cause: Poor exterior lighting

If a business or property owner doesn’t have sufficient lighting outside, people may not be able to see potential hazards. This type of slip and fall can happen at any time of year, but generally during the evening hours with low light. A person could trip on a curb or fall on stairs and really get hurt.

When an owner becomes liable

Liability here depends on two factors. The first is whether the owner knew about the lighting problem. The second is if the owner did not address it by improving lighting conditions.

Cause: Badly maintained sidewalk or parking lot

Business owners must safely maintain their parking lots. Though business owners aren’t expected to maintain public sidewalks, they have to keep walkways meant for customer use safe in a similar manner. The same safety standard applies to property owners with sidewalks on their private property.

When an owner becomes liable

Both business and private property owners must fill cracks or holes in sidewalks or parking lots. Even a significant height difference between sections of a parking lot requires fixing. If not, someone could trip, fall and seriously injure him or herself.

When to seek help

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in an outdoor slip and fall because of the negligence of a property or business owner, you may want to examine your legal options. An attorney with extensive experience handling premises liability claims can answer questions you may have. What is important is that you have the means to hold responsible parties accountable for any carelessness.