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The Duty Of Property Owners To Prevent Black Ice Injuries

Commercial establishments have a heavy duty to make sure their property is safe for patrons. When the weather turns bad and snow and ice falls, a business must take reasonable steps to make sure that their property is free from hazards when they open for business. Most businesses hire snow removal companies to perform the tasks for them or clear their property themselves. One thing is clear, if you're going to open for business, you have to make sure that the property is in a safe condition.

If A Business Is Open, It Must Keep The Property Safe

Safety means that the property is free from hazards for all users. Business owners know that despite the bad weather there will be people coming to their property without the proper foot wear, or who are elderly or infirm. They must make their property safe for all reasonable users.

Just because someone falls on a commercial property does not mean that the owner is liable. The injured person must prove that the property owner did not take the appropriate steps and that the property was in a dangerous condition. In addition, the person who fell may be partially at fault themselves.

Dealing With Heavy Snowfall

Where there has been a significant snowfall, the snow is usually piled up in large piles around the perimeter of the property. These large piles, and even smaller piles that are scattered throughout the property, can melt during the day when the sun comes out or when the temperatures increase. It is not uncommon for temperatures to go over freezing during the day, causing snow to melt, and then returned to below freezing at night, resulting in the wet pavement to freeze over. This is a condition known as refreeze or black ice.

Refreeze or black ice is a known phenomenon and can be very dangerous to people walking on the property. One of the reasons that black ice is extremely dangerous is because the ice itself tends to blend in with the asphalt, thus the term black ice.

Plowing Parking Lots Is Usually Not Enough

Black ice or refreeze can be eliminated through the use of salt or calcium chloride. Proper application of substances to make sure that the ice does not freeze over and create hazards may mean that the snow removal contractor must return to the premises more than once to reapply salt. Just simply plowing a lot and leaving the snow to melt is not enough.

If You Have Fallen, Try to Photograph The Scene

For anyone who has fallen on a commercial property, proper investigation is essential. The existence of the snow, which can be documented through photographs or weather reports, as well as whether the appropriate calcium chloride or salt was applied to prevent people from slipping must be explored. If you have fallen and been injured on a commercial property, contact an attorney to discuss your rights.

Regardless of where you have fallen, it is important to document the location of the fall and what was the cause of it. It may make a difference as to whether the fall took place on commercial or residential property. An attorney can investigate and make sure that your rights are protected.

Most Municipalities Have Snow Removal Laws

Residential properties also may be sources of injury; however, the duty for residential property owner to shovel their sidewalks is much more limited than that of a commercial property owner. Residential property owners have much more limited duties in clearing their walkways of snow and ice. They do have a duty to make sure their property is safe for business invitees, which are individuals who come to their properties for business purposes. When social guests are involved, the duty is much less clear.

Some municipalities impose duties by enacting ordinances requiring a homeowner to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice. While these are rarely enforced by the municipality, they may create a legal duty to make sure the property is clear where none would exist at common law.

Talk To An Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip-and-fall accident and is looking for quality New Jersey legal representation, call 856-528-3205 to get in contact with a lawyer today. Law Offices of John Morelli is located in Cherry Hill.

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