Ensuring the safety of visitors to businesses and apartment complexes is not just a matter of courtesy; it’s a legal obligation. A slip, trip, or fall outside your building can result in physical harm for the visitor and legal and financial repercussions for you as the property owner.
To protect yourself from a potential slip and fall lawsuit from an injured visitor, familiarize yourself with common slip and fall hazards and steps to minimize the risk of visitor injury.
Common Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards
The exterior areas of commercial buildings, retail stores, and apartment complexes serve as a visitor’s initial point of contact, but they often expose them to dangerous hazards. These spaces can pose various risks that compromise visitor safety if improperly maintained.
- Uneven Walkways: Uneven or damaged exterior walkways often cause trip and fall injuries. Cracks on pavements, potholes, or uneven surfaces can easily catch someone off guard, leading to a fall. These hazards are hazardous for individuals with mobility issues or those who may not be paying close attention to their surroundings.
- Poor Lighting: Inadequate lighting can make even a well-maintained pathway dangerous. Shadows can make it hard to see obstacles, and dimly lit areas can make it difficult to judge the evenness of the surface. Poor lighting is often a contributing factor in evening or early morning accidents.
- Cluttered Pathways: Objects left on pathways, such as tools, equipment, or seasonal decorations, can pose a tripping hazard. A clear path is essential for visitors to safely navigate the exterior of your business or property.
- Slippery Surfaces: Rain, snow, or ice can make walkways extremely slippery. Even dew or a recent cleaning can create a slick surface that poses a risk for slips and falls. This hazard is especially present when rain, sleet, wet fallen leaves, and snow typically occur in colder months.
- Lack of Signage: Warning signs are essential to alert visitors to potential hazards. Appropriate signage can give people the heads-up they need to proceed cautiously, whether it’s a step-down, steep slope, or temporary obstruction.
How to Make Your Property Safer for Patrons and Visitors
As a property owner, you can take steps to reduce the potential for accidents on your premises. Do the following to ensure your property remains hazard-free to keep visitors safe:
- Conduct Regular Inspections: Conduct routine inspections of the exterior premises to identify any potential hazards. This includes checking for uneven walkways, poor lighting, and clutter. Document your findings and address them promptly.
- Perform Timely Repairs and Maintenance: Repair any identified hazards like cracks in the pavement, loose tiles, or damaged steps and railings. Regular maintenance can prevent these issues from becoming problems. For instance, proactively filling cracks and leveling uneven surfaces can help prevent trips and falls.
- Install Adequate Lighting: Install sufficient lighting to illuminate walkways, stairs, and other high-traffic areas. Consider motion-activated lights or timers to ensure the lighting is available when needed, especially during early morning and evening hours.
- Clear Pathways: Keep pathways clear of any obstacles, tools, or equipment. If you have gardeners, maintenance staff, or other personnel working on the premises, ensure they are trained to keep their work areas tidy and free of trip hazards.
- Install Safety Measures: Consider installing additional safety features like handrails, anti-slip mats, and warning signs. These can be useful in areas prone to becoming slippery due to weather conditions or in places with steps or slopes.
- Seasonal Precautions: Depending on your location, seasonal changes can introduce new hazards. For example, snow and ice in the winter or fallen leaves in the autumn can create slippery conditions. Have a plan for prompt snow and ice removal and keep pathways clear of leaves and other debris.
Safeguarding Your Exterior and Knowing Your Rights
Property owners are legally responsible for ensuring that their premises are safe for visitors. The owner or manager must take necessary precautions to prevent accidents, whether it’s a commercial building, retail store, or apartment complex.
If you were hurt in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries. This can include medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Our Michigan slip and fall injury lawyers at Fieger Law are known for aggressively fighting for the rights of accident victims. We can provide legal guidance to help you receive a fair settlement.
Contact us today and schedule your free consultation. We can review your case and help you decide your next legal steps after an injury-causing accident that wasn’t your fault.