Weather forecasters may not be expecting multiple feet of snow in Oregon this winter, but it only takes a glazing to create hazardous conditions for drivers and walkers. While you may take great care to keep your sidewalks and steps as clear and dry as possible, you cannot always expect the same diligence from other property owners.
Slipping on snow or ice is the most common cause of falls in winter. Ground level falls can result in critical injuries, including head trauma, spinal cord injuries and serious bone fractures. Injuries from a slip-and-fall accident may leave you with lifelong pain and recurring complications. While there are simple steps a business or property owner can take to prevent such accidents, not everyone is looking out for your safety.
As soon as the weather forecast predicts snow, property owners can begin to prepare. In fact, before winter arrives, property owners can be proactive by filling holes that may become tripping hazards when snow is on the ground or installing heating elements that will prevent surfaces from freezing. However, once the snow begins to fall, a property owner should always have in mind that you and others will be vulnerable to slipping. Reasonable steps to take include the following:
- Having a plan in place for snow removal that includes plowing parking lots after only a few inches accumulate
- Making sure the parking lots, sidewalks and ramps are clear well before employees or customers arrive
- Paying special attention to clear areas where the ground slopes
- Pushing snow to a low end of the parking lot to prevent it from melting and refreezing
- Using chemicals to melt ice and applying abrasives to provide traction
Once you are safely inside the building, you may face similar hazards. Snow and ice tracked in on people's shoes can create slippery surfaces on uncarpeted floors. A property owner must be careful to place extra mats at entrances and change them frequently if they become saturated. Stairs inside the building may also be fall hazards if they become wet on snowy days. A fall on a slippery staircase can have tragic, even fatal results.
As winter approaches, at times you may have no choice but to venture out into it. As careful as you may be, the chances of suffering injuries from a slip and fall are compounded if a property owner is negligent in treating surfaces and clearing away ice and snow, and you may have cause to pursue legal action for compensation for your injuries.