Winters in Pennsylvania often result in copious amounts of snow and ice. These treacherous conditions can cause slips and falls that result in serious injuries. It is important that business owners understand their responsibilities so they are not held liable for damages.
According to FindLaw, the regular accumulation of snow and ice outside a building is not typically an argument for liability. However, if accumulation occurs due to an owner’s negligence, then they may be responsible. This includes when a defect or unsafe condition, such as a clogged drain or uneven surface, causes the abnormal buildup of ice.
Business owners should not only be aware of liabilities of the building, they must also take note of the sidewalks, parking lots and surrounding outdoor lighting. If owners provide the removal of snow and ice, this must occur within a reasonable time after a storm ends and on a regular maintenance schedule.
According to Forbes, even if a tenant does not own the property, there may be a clause in the rental agreement that puts the responsibility on the tenant. A general commercial liability policy will help pay for lawsuit costs, but it is best to take steps to avoid a lawsuit altogether.
An inspection of the interior and exterior should occur regularly, and more frequently when there is lots of snow and ice. This step helps detect any unsafe conditions that may result in a slip or fall. The tenant should remedy any condition, such as a burnt-out light, wobbly railing, icy sidewalk, loose floor mat or puddles in the entryway, as quickly as possible. In the meantime, display proper signs to warn of the hazard.