BLOG NUMBER 5.17
When a person is injured because a business fails to provide a safe environment for patrons, it may seem like it’s an easy case to close. However, there are many factors in premises liability lawsuits. This is especially true when the business doesn’t practice standard safety measures, such as salting an ice patch. However, it’s not always so clear-cut, as the requirement to manage weather-related hazards is often tied down to a designated period of time, and it may take an expert witness in snow removal to be able to prove whether standard protocol was followed for safety.
The Time Requirement for Snow and Ice Management Varies By Jurisdiction
In Kansas City, property owners are required to clear an area “within a reasonable amount of time.” However, some neighboring cities set an 8-hour limit, or even a 12-hour limit. There are also areas which specify a number of “daylight hours” that a property owner has to restore order to his land following inclement weather. Failure to maintain one’s property by the end of this deadline often results in fines, but more importantly, it can demonstrate negligence to a jury. Bear in mind, however, that even if a city does not have a snow-removal deadline, property owners are still responsible for maintaining a safe environment. In other words, absence of a deadline and fine does not relieve a business owner of his responsibility to remove the snow within a sensible time period.
A Snow Removal Consultant May Be Necessary
In situations where time becomes a key factor in determining whether a property owner was negligent or not, someone who specializes in snow removal consulting may be of assistance in determining an accurate timeline of events. For instance, a weather audit can be compiled and presented to the court. This can contain valuable information compiled by numerous sources which proves when the weather event occurred and ended, so that a judge and jury can easily understand the conditions at the time of the injury, as well as how much time had passed since the storm’s cessation. Most widely-available weather reports are not detailed enough to be useful, and can often be considered hearsay. Comprehensive audits from an expert in the industry are reliable, and can include any relevant data needed to assist with the case. This goes beyond temperatures, weather patterns, and times, and it can be used to substantiate a personal injury claim.
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