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Caution! Frozen Sidewalks: What Safety Responsibility do Retail Stores have to Their Customers?

Retailers should not be surprised when it gets cold in the winter. Temperatures routinely dip below freezing on a nightly basis. In some cases, it may not be warm enough during the day to melt any moisture located on the sidewalk or near the store entrance. What should retailers be concerned about when icy conditions persist on store property?

Customers Can Sue For Pain And Suffering

If a customer slips and falls on an icy sidewalk or near a store entrance, that customer could sue for pain and suffering. Property laws indicate that the property owner is responsible for anyone who gets hurt on the premises. It does not matter if the property is a personal residence or a commercial property. Therefore, stores should take any precaution necessary to keep the sidewalk clear of snow and ice.

Attempting To Get Rid Of The Ice May Not Be Good Enough

Accidents happen even when proper precautions are taken. For example, an influx of customers who have wet shoes may create slippery conditions inside of the store that cannot be avoided. However, simply making an effort to get rid of ice on sidewalks may not be enough to win in court. Stores should have plans in place to eliminate icy conditions as soon as possible.

What Steps Can Be Taken To Get Rid Of Ice?

There are several steps that can be taken to get rid of ice on sidewalks. A common method of getting rid of ice is to put salt on the ground. If no salt is available, sand or kitty litter can be used to melt the ice or create extra traction for anyone walking on the ice. Depending on how much money the store has to spend on sidewalk maintenance, it may be worth it to buy a heater that will keep the sidewalk above freezing at all times.

Keep Handicapped Spots Clear

Customers who have difficulty walking or maintaining their balance may find it even more difficult to stay upright during good conditions. When there is snow or ice on the ground, they could be the first to take a tumble. If an elderly or disabled person were to fall, it could result in a broken bone or even death.

Even if your store did everything it could to prevent such a tragic accident from occurring, the PR backlash could be monumental. Therefore, make sure that the handicapped spots are in pristine condition at all times. It may be a good idea to assign an employee to spend the entire day shoveling and salting handicapped spots.

Customers have every right to expect a safe and enjoyable shopping experience when they visit your store. When the winter months arrive, it is important to have a plan of action in place to keep ice from accumulating and causing injuries to patrons. If your store doesn't have a plan yet, now is the time to put that plan into place. Otherwise, you could be spending a lot of time with your lawyers. 

Lloyd Long of is a leading slip & fall lawyer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with them by liking them at their Facebook page!

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