Snow and Ice Related Slips & Falls

A clever man solves a problem, a wise man avoids it.

All property owners should be concerned about the safety of their land, buildings, and premises. Most people carry insurance for the rare times that incidents occur despite precautions taken, but a prudent person works to avoid the need for claims. Many times claims may lead to higher premiums. It’s best to be carefully prepared.

Each state has different laws pertaining to the way they recognize negligence when dealing with accidents. Say, for example a person walking down a driveway in front of a building slips on the ice and falls, breaking his leg. If there a sign or a barricade saying “DANGER – ICE – Do Not Walk Here” the property owner may feel they are not at fault. However, that is not necessarily true.

The law looks at incidents like this through a lens called “comparative fault” – in other words, to what extent is the property owner at fault? What extend is the victim at fault?

In Missouri, the law uses a system called the “pure comparative fault rule” which means even if the victim is 99% at fault for the accident, they may be able to collect on the 1% part of the property owner’s fault.

It can be a strange a hard-to-understand process, which is why it’s best to have an expert on your side when it comes to these issues. Failure to do so can be very expensive.

You can’t do anything to change the weather, snow and ice will come when it wants to come. But there are guides to reduce your chances of having snow or ice related accidents on your property, and it’s not as simple as having a salt and a snow shovel.

There were over 8 million visits to emergency rooms last year, all related to slip and fall injuries. Of those, over 500,000 involved snow or ice. Those numbers should concern anyone who owns property in an area where the weather gets cold.

Average snowfall rates in Missouri range from about 2 inches in Caruthersville to over 17 inches in St. Louis. Keep in mind it only takes ¼ inch to slip on.

Property owners should have a comprehensive system in place. For example, there should be a checklist covering all the tasks involved with melting ice, shoveling snow, putting up warning signs if needed. Do you have enough salt for the whole winter? If you run out and there is none available, you could be in for a very serious problem.

There should also be a training program in place to make sure everyone understands proper methods, and training should be an ongoing process.

Snow & ice removal as well as premise safety & security issues should all be part of a comprehensive program to reduce liability. Swenson Consulting owns and operates its own proprietary snow operations software and can help business owners who desire to build or maintain a software package to assist their snow operations. Snow and ice related slips & falls are serious incidents, and all reasonable procedures should be observed to prevent them.

We offer general business advice for many different types of situations including how to grow your business, diversify your services, or how to effectively collect your invoicing. Jeremy Swenson can be reached at 816-564-9131.

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