Winters in New York can lead to various types of hazards, particularly when it comes to premises liability incidents. Most property owners understand the need to become extra vigilant during the winter months to prevent any type of incident from occurring. However, it is crucial to review the most common types of premises liability claims that arise during winter months.
Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall
The most common issue that individuals need to worry about when it comes to ensuring their property is safe is removing slip and fall hazards. Slip and fall incidents can occur any time of year, but the reality is that ice, snow, and sleet significantly increase the chance that a person will fall.
According to data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can see that approximately 3 million individuals receive treatment each year in emergency departments for fall injuries. Additionally, 800,000 of these individuals are hospitalized due to the incident, most often due to a head injury or a hip fracture.
Property owners must remain diligent and ensure that any area of concern is resolved as quickly as possible, particularly if there will be guests coming to the property. This includes other family members, friends, delivery drivers, mail persons, and more.
Property owners have a duty to inspect their premises on a regular basis, and this is particularly important after a snow or ice storm. Failing to do so could result in the property owner facing a premises liability lawsuit against any individual who sustains a slip and fall injury caused by a known hazard on the property.
Property Damage and the Winter
The winter time will see an increase in falling trees and branches, especially if severe weather strikes. When heavy snow or ice sits on trees or branches, this increases the chance that the trees or branches will fall, particularly if a snow or ice storm comes with heavy winds.
In the event a tree or branch falls onto someone else’s property, you could be held responsible for paying compensation to pay for the damages. This could include property damage expenses or personal injury expenses if the falling branch or tree causes harm to another individual.
We encourage all property owners to regularly inspect their premises and remove any low-hanging or dead branches. Old or unhealthy trees should be examined and extricated before winter storms. Any branches that may hang over the property line should be trimmed back.
Checking Insurance Policies
All property owners should examine their homeowners’ insurance policies to ensure that they have adequate coverage in the event incidents like these occur. This includes ensuring that the policy will pay for injuries that occur on the property as well as property damage caused by any fallen trees or branches. Please discuss whether or not you are fully covered against “Acts of God,” such as trees falling onto other people’s property. In many cases, there are exclusions in the policy for these types of incidents. Property owners should take steps to prevent injuries and property damage from occurring while also ensuring their insurance offers protection if something does occur.