The colder months can be wonderful—full of warm drinks, crackling fires, and the possibility of snow. However, as a property manager, you might feel overwhelmed due to an increased risk of accidents and, therefore, increased liability in winter.
If you oversee a commercial property, you need to understand the potential legal fallout from snow and ice. Mainly, you could get sued if the weather causes an accident on your property. That’s why you must always watch out for winter hazards and deal with them quickly.
The best way to avoid liability in winter is to begin preparing for harsh weather conditions in the fall. Before temperatures plummet, eliminate areas on your property that could encourage dangerous ice buildup. For example, ensure your building’s eaves have been installed correctly and the downspouts are aimed away from walkways. Leaky eaves and misdirected downspouts can cause water to build up in dangerous places, and those puddles could freeze into ice overnight.
Of course, when winter does arrive, slips and falls are common seasonal accidents. So, it’s important to stay on top of snow and ice removal in parking lots and on walkways. The quicker you can get the job done, the safer your property will be.
Also, don’t just think about dangers that develop on the ground. Remember to watch for icicles and other accumulations that form above walkways and doorways, as well. Any falling ice can cause serious injury, so you need to make sure those spaces are safe. And if you can’t ensure safety in those areas, direct foot traffic elsewhere.
Tenants usually take responsibility for ice and snow removal on smaller properties, like rented homes or duplexes. However, as a property manager, it’s your job to clearly communicate those duties. Outline terms in the lease and include a deadline for clearing public areas, such as sidewalks, after a snowfall. Be very specific to minimize your risk of liability in winter.
Working with Snow Removal Companies
A snow removal company can save plenty of time and stress if you research before contracting services. Ensure the business has enough space in its schedule to complete the job quickly and the equipment necessary to do it right. You also need to make sure the company is adequately insured for both its operations and employees. If not, you might be liable for a worker’s injury if they have an accident on your property.
Before officially hiring a company, outline your conditions and time restraints in writing so all parties understand the terms.
Also, you could still be held responsible for injuries occurring on your property, even if you contract professionals to remove the ice and snow. The company might do a bad job or fail to show, and you’ll still be stuck with a liability risk. That’s why you must hire a reliable business and develop a backup plan if the contracted service doesn’t go as expected.
For additional questions on your risk of liability in winter or on appropriate coverages, contact Morgan, Trevathan & Gunn Insurance, Inc. today.