As a Personal Injury Attorney I get calls every day from potential clients injured in slip/trip and fall accidents. Many calls come around holiday times (when you have a lot of guests), and/or when there is snow or ice on the ground. To help limit the liability on your property, read these quick and easy tips:
Look Around – You need to actually take the time to walk around inside and outside your home, and look for anything that seems dangerous, or could constitute a “tripping hazard”. Under NY law, even a small defective condition could nevertheless be a tripping hazard that requires repair. Look for loose or broken steps and handrails, broken or cracked walkways, any change in elevation in a walking area (anywhere a toe could get snagged), areas that constantly drip or leak (and could freeze when the sun goes down), and for objects, even toys, which obstruct common paths.
Repair/Maintain – Quite simply, you need to repair or change those dangerous things you find, and then you need to maintain that repair over time. If something spills, inside or out, it needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible. It is common sense, but you can’t procrastinate.
Snow/Ice – This is the biggest source of accidents in the winter in NY. If you own the property, it is your responsibility to remove all snow and ice from walkways, including the sidewalks. And, generally speaking, you have to do so within a reasonable time after the snow/ice stops falling (there are different local laws for NYC, and maybe in your area, so you may want to call an attorney or check with your local authorities). Properly removing the snow/ice means making a truly clear path, free of patches of snow/ice. That requires putting down some type of ice melt, and re-checking the walkways periodically afterward. If snow surrounding the path you made melts over time, it can pool into your once safe sidewalk, and freeze again. Also remember – sometimes, if you just use a shovel, without putting down the rock salt, you can actually make it more slippery!
The above should provide a good overview for protecting your home from a negligence lawsuit stemming from a slip/trip and fall. If you have any questions or comments, or if you have been injured in a slip/trip and fall, give us a call.