In the winter, one of the most dangerous things a commercial property owner can allow is snow and ice building up around his or her property. Snow and ice increase the risk of a person experiencing a slip and fall. Slips and falls can result in much more than just a bruise. Some common injuries include brain trauma, broken bones and abrasions.
A person who sustains an injury from slipping and falling in front of a commercial property can file a lawsuit against the building owner. The owner is responsible for ensuring all of the walkways and driveways in front of the building are safe. While these owners cannot prevent snow entirely, there are still actions they can take to reduce their liability, and people in the community can inform the owners of such laws if a discrepancy is present.
Commercial property owners only have a certain amount of time to remove the snow once it has stopped falling completely. This length of time will vary depending on the city in which you reside in. For example, some may require building owners to remove the snow within 24 hours while others may have an 18-hour limit.
Commercial owners need to have a plan in place before the first snow of the season falls. This means the owner either needs to acquire the equipment personally or have an agreement in place with a local contractor to come out within a set timeframe to remove the ice. In the event snow or ice is still present after the time limit, then the owner may face a fine.
Other steps commercial property owners can take to reduce liability
One piece of advice for commercial investors is to take photographs of the sidewalk after removal. This shows the owner took action and may be less liable. For multifamily complexes, the residents are not responsible for snow and ice removal. That rests with the landlord or holding company, and tenants are within their rights to notify law enforcement if no removal occurs.