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Ice, rain and snow: Avoiding slip-and-fall accidents this winter

It's usually assumed that a business will take the time to put down salt when there is ice in front of its doors, put up notices that the floor is wet inside or make sure stairs aren't slick. Although you probably assume that when you go out your safety is important to these businesses, it's not something you can take for granted.

Imagine going out on the town with your girlfriends. You're all having a nice night out, visiting clubs and bars, when you slip on ice while walking into a local hot spot. You hit your head, and now your exciting night on the town is a long night in the hospital with an extended recovery time.

A safe premises is responsibility of business owner

While there are some things you can do to stay safe while you're walking, like watching the ground and being aware of your surroundings, it's really the business's job to make sure its premises is safe. While the law may not require the business owner to remove ice or snow outside its property, if that ice or snow accumulates because of problems with the building, you could have a case.

For example, if there is a leak above the door that funnels melting snow into the doorway, where it drips and freezes, you could claim that the lack of main tenance to the building has led to your injury.

Could you adequately see where you were going when you fell?

Another thing to keep in mind is that businesses should have adequate lighting outside. For instance, when you're walking up to a club, can you see the ground clearly? Is it difficult to see where one step starts and ends? Can you see the entire walkway, or did you trip because of a crack you couldn't see? These are important questions to keep in mind. If the area isn't lit well, it poses a risk to customers. That's something the business should have considered, and you may have a case of negligence against the owner.

On the whole, sidewalks aren't the responsibility of a business owner, because these are city-supported structures. However, if the walkway owned by the business is on its property only for its customers' use, you can make the claim that it required maintenance by the owner. There should be no major puddles, ice or snow on the walkway, and any cracks or uneven surfaces should be marked or well-lit to make them obvious to those walking into the business.

Your attorney can review your slip-and-fall accident to help you decide if it qualifies as negligence. There are cases in which businesses simply don't do their duty to protect their customers.

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