BLOG NUMBER 14.45
Property Owners Must Understand Their Responsibilities
Snow and Ice are wet and slippery, and are obviously not conducive to safe travel by motor vehicles or pedestrians.
Over 70 percent of the nation’s roads are located in snowy regions, which receive more than five inches (or 13 cm) average snowfall annually. Nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in these snowy regions. Snow and ice reduce pavement friction and vehicle maneuverability, causing slower speeds, reduced roadway capacity, and increased crash risk. Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet. Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually.
The Centers for Disease Control keep statistic on injuries to people, and slips and falls are very high on many lists for injuries and deaths. Slip and fall accident statistics compiled by the CDC do not always specify if they are snow and ice related, but we do know that:
Falls are leading cause of injury and death in older Americans.
20% to 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries.
25 percent of ice and snow-related falls occur in parking lots.
Many people are also injured each year by falling ice.
What happens when someone slips, falls, and is injured on property and there is snow or ice involved? Very often there will be a lawsuit. How serious of a lawsuit will it be? Every situation is different but everyone should be aware that juries often return judgments that send strong messages about property owner responsibilities. For example, this headline appeared the in the Johnson City Press: $1.4 million in punitive damages assessed by jury to apartment complex owner after woman fell on ice. Click here to read the full story.
If you are a property owner, it is suggested you find out exactly what your responsibilities are regarding pedestrian safety. Questions? Jeremy Swenson can be reached at 816-564-9131.
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