By Audrey Landers
On February 2nd, the famed meteorologist Punxsutawney Phil declared that we would be having a long winter. After seeing the snow and freezing rain that has struck our office since then, we certainly believe him.
With winter weather comes ice and with ice come falls, slips and all kinds of accidents. Our clients tell us stories all the time! Several years ago a delivery man slipped on the ice in front of a two-story medical center and slid under his truck! The poor guy was stuck on the freezing ground for nearly an hour before someone on the second story saw his arm waving from underneath the vehicle. This same story played out again this year, when our own CEO Jen Searfoss heard a woman crying for help as she was walking into a store. The woman had fallen on the icy parking lot and, just like the delivery man, slid under her car.
The idea that a patient could hurt themselves on your property may seem like bad luck. But beyond their injury, there is another issue: liability.
It is all too common for businesses to focus only on employee liability, completely ignoring the risks seen by customers and delivery people. While many businesses do well with day-to-day liability prevention, for some reason that all tends to go out the window when winter hits. This is even more true for lesser-prepared businesses located in the south.
You can help decrease your liability in these dangerous conditions by making sure you keep your property safe, and by clearly marking anything that may be a danger. As the winter season continues and snow continues to melt and refreeze, here are a few things you can do to make sure you have done your due diligence in maintaining the safety of your property:
- Spread salt in the parking lot
- Keep walkways shoveled and clear of snow
- Place cones around the most dangerous areas of icy parking lots to redirect traffic
- Place “drive slow” and “slippery” signs outside
- Place “wet floor” signs inside
- Place mats or carpet tiles at the entrance to allow patients, customers and employees to dry their shoes
- Remain aware of the conditions so you can take additional action as necessary
While some of these may seem like a lot of work, it’s less work than fighting a lawsuit from a patient, third party or staff. It is better to overprepare than to be caught unprepared.