Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pittsburgh property owners owe winter visitors safe passage

Snow has made an inconsistent appearance in Allegheny County during the last few months. Many Pennsylvania residents don't take winter seriously until the major holidays have passed. January through mid-March can bring staggeringly-cold temperatures and unpredictable accumulations of ice, snow or a mixture of both.

Pittsburgh home and business owners are expected to adapt to the season by taking precautions to prevent slips, trips or falls. Ice, snow and water buildup can make parking areas, sidewalks, porches, steps, ramps and entrances treacherous. It's up to property owners and managers to make sure visitors, customers and employees are protected by removing slippery substances.

Slips and falls may not result in a fatality, but a victim can have substantial injuries beyond strains and sprains. Spine, head and back injuries may cause temporary or permanent disability, harm that takes away a victim's ability to move and earn an income.

Retail store and homeowners, who are lax about the safety of others, risk being targets of premises liability lawsuits. Victims harmed by careless property owners have the right to request compensation for physical and emotional suffering.

Practically, keeping a walkway completely clear of snow may be impossible. It may be necessary for slippery areas to be sanded, salted or highlighted by signs or barriers. Mats can be useful at entrances to prevent tracking the slip and fall hazard inside.

Injured parties often aren't blameless. Improper footwear and hurrying can invite an accident; however, property owners can share responsibility for a visitor or employee's injury. A jury still could determine an accident was partly caused by a neglectful landowner or maintenance manager and order damages to be paid.

Property owners sometimes create a snow and ice removal plan haphazardly, after Pittsburgh weather forecasts threaten harsh conditions. Safety experts encourage designing strategies early, so they can be implemented immediately when winter weather becomes a safety and legal risk.

Source: Boothbay Register, "Businesses should take precautions for winter safety" Julie Rabinowitz, Dec. 25, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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