Coinciding with the shopping season is the annual slip-and-fall season — which puts holiday shoppers in more danger every year than they realize.
When the owner of a building or property fails to take reasonable precautions to keep people from slips and falls, knowing that they will be there to shop or visit, that owner is generally liable for any of their injuries.
However, holiday shoppers are still likely to have to navigate around some significant winter barriers in the next couple months:
1. Poor lighting and bad lots
Badly lit parking lots are dangerous for a lot of reasons, but when the nights are longer than the days, you can end up having trouble navigating a lot that should have been repaired before the foul weather hit. Broken chunks of asphalt or concrete, holes in the pavement and badly cleared and unsalted lots make for sure disasters to anybody not wearing cleats.
Individual store owners in an outdoor shopping center may not be responsible for a lot that is held and maintained by a commercial landlord — but the landlord would be liable for your injuries. If you fell in a single store’s lot, however, that store would be responsible.
2. Snow and ice buildups
The other big hazard to winter shoppers is snow and ice on buildings or accumulations that have been allowed to build up in the parking lot in an unnatural way.
It’s generally accepted that a store owner can’t stop every snowflake from hitting the ground. However, the owner should be on the lookout for accumulations of snow or ice that pose unusual hazards to walkers.
Examples include water that has come down a drain and frozen into an ice slick across the walk necessary to get into the store or a pile of snow and ice plowed together in the middle of the parking lot that keeps melting and creating black ice on the ground.
If you become the victim of a slip-and-fall injury this year, an attorney can advise you on the viability of a civil case for compensation.
Source: FindLaw, “Conditions Leading to Outdoor Slip and Fall Accidents,” accessed Nov. 02, 2017