Snow, nature’s vixen. It’s the cause of about 50,000 car accidents each year, frequent major slowdowns, and serious injuries due to slip and falls in winter. We need not remind you of the frustrating commutes to work, the infinite layers to put on, the amount of effort it takes to do the most basic tasks. You need a really good reason to leave your warm and cozy home in the Winter. Waking up nearly every morning, praying for some relief from snowfall and that the plows have cleared the roads.
Similar concerns might cross your mind if you manage a business. Just like the roads, sidewalks are a major issue for accidents. Slip and falls in the winter are a Canadian norm, but some can come at a hefty price. Roughly 80,000 people end up in hospital each year due to winter mishaps and about 25% of those end up in a lawsuit against a business or property owner each year. These are shocking numbers. One moment or one seemingly insignificant patch of ice can change the life of an individual and the health of a business. Don’t allow your business to close its doors permanently due to an avoidable injury.
Is it easy to sue your business for an injury suffered by a slip and fall in Winter?
It’s easier for someone to file a lawsuit against private property than a Municipality. For someone to have a successful case against a Municipality, the injured individual must have without a reasonable doubt that they have been grossly negligent. However, to have a case against a private property, the amount of negligence can be much smaller. Staying on top of your property’s condition is a top priority in the winter.
Who’s liable after a slip and fall in Winter?
If you have a snow removal contractor, the liability is transferred over to them. It can be tough to decipher who’s at fault in a shared parking lot, or leased property. Even if you feel like it isn’t your responsibility, you should do everything in your power to improve accessibility to your business. Even if that means manually shoveling or salting your entrance yourself. Most Municipal Code requires business property owners to clear all walkways of snow and ice within 12 hours of snowfall.
Additional Snow Removal Issues
You can’t escape the burden of snow in winter, you can only take precautionary measures to lighten the strain. In addition to potential accidents, here are other reasons to keep a well-maintained property in the winter.
- Prevents getting stuck in the parking lot
- Makes parking less of an issue
- Avoid injuring yourself
- Wet footwear and socks all day
- Bringing the snow indoors.
- What your customers might think of you, especially the elderly or those in a wheelchair who have a harder time getting around as is
- Blocking access to wheelchair ramps is illegal and need to be cleared of snow and ice
How to Prevent Slip and Falls in Winter
- Salt slippery surfaces
- Be aware and remove seasonal trip hazards (snow and ice)
- Add appropriate signs bringing attention to spills, dripping roofs, or anything that can cause an unwanted surprise
- Level slopes of walkways and ramps
- Get rid of debris and items stored in pedestrian walkways
- Wear proper footwear
- Be cautious and tell customers the same.
If you encounter someone taking a tumble on your property, take a picture of the scene, even if it doesn’t look bad. Try to follow up with the individual days later. If someone witnesses your fall, try to get their name, address and phone number. Incident reports can be of great help to identify responsible for the accident parties.
How much are you going to pay if sued successfully?
The average slip and fall in winter claim payout is about $33,000. That isn’t including lawyer fees, money from taking time off from work, and losing that customer and potentially more due to negligence. Slip and Falls in Winter is a nightmare that only you can prevent from happening.
What are you Responsible for Covering?
- Medical treatment
- Lost Wage-recovery value of earnings
- Loss of earning capacity-if serious and can’t return to the original job. Payment of new education and training
- New out of ordinary expenses-Gas to rehab
- Bad press – this isn’t apart of the claim but could be a result of the accident. Public opinions of you and your business might change. They may feel like you don’t care or aren’t responsible. It can cost you a lot in the long run.
- You could be fined as much as $1,000 for being unprepared.
What constitutes a valid claim?
- Evidence-damage suffered, the link between the injury and dangerous conditions.
- The severity of the injury suffered
- Law of Common sense and practices-right footwear, being reckless
- Trespassing-The judge may deem the individual injured was trespassing and the case will be thrown out
Benefits of Winter Maintenance Services
Snow removal is essential for your business for several reasons:
- Customer and employee access
- Legal Reasons
- Comfort and convenience-Both for you and your customers
- Helps prevent damage of property
- Peace of Mind
- Eliminates snow piling up
It is essential to keep a clear path to your business. This means ensuring all parking lots, driveways, sidewalks provide safe access for employees, customers, and suppliers. This will decrease the likelihood of a slip and fall in Winter. 1 misstep could cost you a small fortune and even force you to shut down your business. Being proactive this winter could be both a life and wallet saver.
Ask for a free quote on your property this winter with Hybrid Landscape Management. They are experienced to tackle the extreme weather Canada has to throw at you all year round, and winter is no exception. Hybrid knows all of the current laws and regulations and wants to share their knowledge with business owners. They know that ever individual, business, and property is different, which is why they offer customizable snow removal options to help ensure slip and falls in winter isn’t something you’ll encounter, at least not on your property.