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Navigate Icy Conditions with this Winter Premises Liability Guide

Posted on 12/18/23 by admin in Premises Liability

Winter weather is imminent in the DC area and local meteorologists are predicting higher than average snowfall. While Charlottesville, DC, and Baltimore can all expect serious snowfall, the Hagerstown area is expected to see even more. We here at Malloy Law believe this is an ideal time to review winter safety, particularly as it pertains to the field of premises liability. Business owners in our area are likely accustomed to the property maintenance expected of them in winter weather. But area homeowners may be unaware of the potential liability they may be exposed to by icy walks and porches. This winter premises liability guide should serve both these property owners as well as the private citizens who may be injured by their negligence. Let’s begin with some proactive measures you can take to prevent injuries caused by wintry conditions.

winter premises liability

Premises Liability Basics and the Duty of Care

You may not know it in these terms, but if you own property (or even if you rent an apartment) you’re likely familiar with the concept of a “duty of care.” You likely just don’t refer to it in those terms. Let’s dispense with dry definitions and use a real-life example. Say you’re expecting friends this evening. You’ve had a busy week and so your home is a bit of a mess. Your friends aren’t snobs, they’ll understand if not everything is squeaky-clean, but you still take care to remove obstructions like shoes or packages from the entry foyer and wipe up any spills or other slippery hazards. You don’t want your friends to hurt themselves, as this would seriously derail everyone’s enjoyment of the evening.

If this seems familiar to you, then you’ve already extended a duty of care to guests. This in essence requires property owners to look after the safety of guests on their property by abating potential hazards or at least warning them of their presence. This duty also applies to mail carriers and other delivery drivers whose work requires them to venture onto private property without the explicit consent of the owner. Failure to conduct maintenance on hazards or extend warnings to guests could be considered negligence. This could make the property owner liable for any injuries incurred by guests.

winter weather

Winter Premises Liability: Preventative Measures

Now that we’re up to speed on the general outline of premises liability, let’s talk about some preventative measure you can take to ensure the safety of guests on your property. These can be useful whether you own a home or a business. Some simple measure you can take to minimize risk when winter weather is expected include:

  • Spreading Salt on Walkways and Stairs: Rock salt can prevent the formation of ice patches on heavily trafficked walkways
  • Clearing Snow Promptly, Before Freezing Can Occur: Snow left to sit on driveways or walkways can develop an icy crust. This makes it far more difficult to clear.
  • Re-Salting Regularly to Prevent Re-Freezing: Even at freezing temperatures, snow or ice can melt in direct sunlight and then re-freeze later in the day, re-application of salt can prevent the return of hazardous conditions.
  • Making Note of Potentially Hazardous Icicles: Ledges or gutters can make ideal spots for the formation of large icicles. As the sun rises and temperatures rise, these icicles can melt down to the pavement and freeze over again. In some rare cases, the whole icicle may come crashing down, potentially causing serious injury to anyone caught beneath it.
  • Posting a Wet Floor Sign: For business owners, if you make use of a wet floor sign in cases of heavy rain, be sure to deploy it in snowy conditions. Tracked-in snow can quickly creat slippery conditions.

winter premises liability icicle

Winter Premises Liability: A Guide for Victims

If you suffer a slip and fall or trip and fall injury due to winter weather, seek medical attention immediately. You should seek medical assistance even if you believe your injuries are minor. Once you’ve seen to your health, the following steps can be taken to protect your rights and seek compensation for your injuries.

  • File a Report with the Management of the Business
  • Collect Photographic Evidence, and Security Camera Footage if Available
  • Make Contact with Witnesses and Collect Statements
  • Document and Preserve Physical Evidence
  • Contact an Attorney

winter premises liability

How Malloy Law Can Help

If you or a loved one has been injured due to winter weather and the negligence of a property owner, contact Malloy Law today for a free consultation. Our experienced and diverse team of attorneys will craft a winning strategy to seek maximum compensation. We can pursue damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Don’t navigate the aftermath of your injury alone. Contact Malloy Law Offices, and let’s win your case.