Tip for Business Owners to Avoid Liability for Snow/Ice Accidents


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Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season has arrived. That means everyone will be out and about, whether for Christmas shopping or Christmas parties. Businesses often make the same mistake, over and over again – fail to designate a person responsible for inclement weather preparation.

A tip for business owners is to designate a person who will be responsible for snow and ice issues. Make sure that one person in the business knows and understands that part of their job is to check the weather and prepare for snow/ice.

There are many cases where the defendant business simply failed to assign the responsibility for snow/ice to a single person. Management may simply leave a bag of salt by the front door or worse, do nothing at all.

There are different kinds of businesses, and this means different approaches to snow and ice removal. Retail stores are entirely different than office buildings. What a business has to do to avoid liability for snow and ice accidents depends on factors like how much foot traffic and hours or operation. No case is the same. However, legally, in Pennsylvania, any business which invites the general public must perform inspections of the property to check for defects. This includes snow and ice issues.

Injuries from snow and ice accidents are usually severe. Head injuries and broken bones are very common. With winter upon us, stores and businesses must re-evaluate their snow/ice policies. Doing so will is likely to prevent these kinds of accidents and liability, and for starters, businesses should be aware of local codes in Philadelphia which pertain to snow/ice removal. Generally in Philadelphia, sidewalks must be cleared of snow within 6 hours after snow has stopped falling (See Philadelphia Code 10-720).

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