As any Kansas City resident will say, winter is the season of slips and falls, and while some slips can be funny, others can result in twisted ankles, concussions, broken bones, and, in some cases, worse. And when serious personal injury coincides with a slip and fall, the victim may be facing costly medical expenses, lost wages, and suffering. For this reason, if you own a business or other property in Kansas City, it's essential to maintain your property for winter conditions, prevent slips and falls, and, ultimately, prevent a lawsuit.At Popham Law in Kansas City, our slip and fall and personal injury attorneys have seen it all, including property owners who were found to be liable for winter conditions, such as ice or snow. As such, we've prepared this blog post about your winter responsibilities for preventing slips and falls.However, if you need some of the leading personal injury attorneys in Kansas City, call our law firm at (816) 221-2288.
Am I Responsible for the Slip and Fall?
Before going around your property, workplace, public building, or other property, it's important to ask yourself, "Will I be responsible if someone slips and falls on my property?" Generally, it's safe to assume that if you own the property, and are the title holder, then an injured person's lawsuit can be directed at you. If you are a manager at a company or the owner of a small business, and you're incorporated, the lawsuit may try to hold your company liable instead of putting your personal assets at risk. Nonetheless, a lawsuit will be a huge expense.Remember - for a slip and fall lawsuit, determining liability is a key factor in any case. Additionally, in order for a property owner to be held legally responsible for the injuries, one of the following must be true:
- The property owner knew about the hazard and did not try to correct it
- The property owner should have known about the hazard and taken steps to prevent injury, just as any "reasonable person" would have done
- The property owner created the hazard
With ice- or winter-related slips and falls, you most likely didn't create the hazard, but someone could argue that you knew about (or should have known about) the conditions and could have prevented the injury.
Assessing Slip and Fall Hazards
In order to try and prevent slips and falls (or, at least, try to make yourself immune to a lawsuit), you can take a three-pronged approach that includes 1.) assessment, 2.) controlling hazards, and 3.) engaging others.Assessment should be the first part of your plan. When the weather dips way below freezing during the night, or a large storm passed through, or there is simply an increased risk for snow and ice around the city, then you should always assess any slip and fall hazards on your property. This assessment can include:
- Conducting detailed inspections of parking lots, walkways and entrances
- Inspecting any sloped surfaces, stairs, ramps, and paths
- Spot checking for other hazards, such as formations of ice dams that'll block drainage, back up on sidewalks, and re-freeze
- Making plans to avoid indoor slips and falls from tracked-in hazards
Controlling the Hazards to Reduce or Eliminate Risk
After making thorough assessments, you can start controlling the hazards to optimize the risk management around your property. Some specific tasks you can follow include:
- Discuss expectations with your maintenance staff or snow removal vendor.
- Keep hazardous areas free of snow and ice, and prepare for continued maintenance throughout the day. Keep gloves and a shovel ready.
- If you own a business, assign workers to remove snow and other hazards before other employees or customers arrive. Consider using a slip-resistant material.
- Install slip-resistant flooring materials around areas prone to wet conditions.
- If you own a business, require workers to wear footwear appropriate for the conditions.
- Provide good lighting and illuminate parking lots, paths, and walkways.
- Use "Caution" signs if caught off-guard or temporarily unable to keep up with floor cleaning.
Call the KC Slip and Fall Attorneys at Popham Law
Of course, there is some leniency during major winter storms. You shouldn't have to braze a blizzard and put yourself at risk just to eliminate the potential risks. Nevertheless, it's important to be proactive and eliminate risks when possible. If you were in a slip and fall, make sure to get the leading slip and fall attorneys in Kansas City by calling Popham Law at (816) 221-2288.