Liability Claims In Winter Weather
During winter particularly in areas of the country where cold weather affects walking, driving and working conditions the possibility of accidents increases. This in turn may expose your business to Liability.
Even natural events can leave you liable for accidents and injuries as a business owner
Here’s what you need to know
The most common type of accident that leads to injury in the winter months is a ‘slip and fall’ or ‘trip and fall’ accident. A slip and fall happens when someone slips on ice or snow, or on water on a slick surface. ‘Black ice’ is particularly treacherous because it’s a thin layer of ice on a dark surface, and is therefore nearly invisible.
What constitutes ‘slip (or trip) and fall?’
There are three factors that need to be present in order to assign legal responsibility for a slip or trip and fall accident. The insured;
- must have caused the slippery surface or dangerous condition.
- must have known about the danger and ignored it, or
- should have known about the danger because a reasonable person would have discovered it.
Even claims that are dismissed, which are rare, can be costly for the defendant. You may have to take time away from work in order to meet with your solicitor and experts. This in itself causes expense and distraction.
Keep in mind that a slip and fall can happen in many circumstances. The situation that immediately springs to mind is ice on a driveway or sidewalk. But water on a slick indoor surface like tile or linoleum is a also a hazard.
Landlords and Tenants
Many companies who rent their business space believe that their landlord would be responsible for this type of claim, but that may not be true. If your lease stipulates that you are responsible for clearing the pavement, driveway or steps of snow and ice, the responsibility lies with you. Likewise, if you do not notify your landlord of a potential hazard of which you are aware, you could be liable for any resulting injury.
Liability Protection for your Business
The cold weather can cause other liabilities for business owners as well. If you have employees who are required to work outside during the winter months, you have a responsibility to make sure they are safe when they do so. This means keeping the work area free of hazards that could cause a slip and fall accident. It also means making sure that they are properly dressed and equipped for the weather conditions.
Members of the Public
As with Employees if someone makes a claim against you for a slip and fall or other accident that causes them bodily injury Liability Insurance could cover your costs. The right Public Liability insurance policy will not only cover any settlement or judgment against you, but it will also pay your legal costs, whatever the outcome.
- Protect your customers, visitors and employees from accidents during the winter months by making sure your premises are free of cold-weather hazards.
- Protect your business by making sure you have adequate business liability insurance just in case.