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DON’T LET YOUR CUSTOMERS SLIP AWAY: Tips for Helping to Prevent Slip & Fall Injuries at Your Business

By: Matthew H. Fry, Esquire
       [email protected]

As a small business owner, whether it’s a retail store, professional service, or any other business establishment with a storefront or office, it is important that your customers remember your business for what you had to offer them there, and not because they suffered an injury there. Here are some tips for these winter months to help keep your customers upright and safe, and to help keep you from dealing with costly claims and lawsuits.

As a business owner you are likely responsible for maintaining the sidewalks that are adjacent to your business establishment. While sidewalks could be owned and controlled by the state, county/city or your township/borough, typically local ordinances require the business to clear the walk in front of its own establishment. It’s always important to check with local ordinances to know whether as a business owner you are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to your business establishment. If you lease the property, you may also want to check your lease agreement to determine your responsibilities for maintenance, and those of your landlord.

If you are responsible, it is vital to identify any and all conditions that may cause someone harm, and to promptly remove or repair any and all dangerous conditions. These conditions can include shrubbery or trees protruding over the sidewalk, cracks, uneven areas, holes, tree roots, and, of course, the dreaded ice or snow.

Ice or Snow Outside Your Business Establishment
If you are responsible for the sidewalks adjacent to your business establishment, that obligation also requires you to promptly remove ice and snow. Depending upon local ordinances and lease agreements, a business owner may likely also be responsible for parking lots and walkways leading up to the business establishments, particularly in those areas foreseeably used by customers. When ice or snow begins to accumulate, those areas must be cleared as soon as possible, and kept clear by removing the ice and snow at regular intervals. In most cases the law does not require a business owner to remove ice or snow which has accumulated away from the business establishment and on an adjacent property. However, if an adjacent property is not cleared, and that causes ice or snow to melt and re-freeze on your property, it is your obligation to remove that ice or snow that accumulates on your property.

Inadequate Lighting
Inadequate lighting can obscure a number of hazards outside of your business establishment, including ice patches, curbs, physical obstructions, steps, or potholes. Refreezing of ice or snow in winter combined with early darkness and inadequate lighting can leave your business establishment at extreme risk of injury by your customers, and the costly claims and lawsuits that could result.

Parking Lots
Parking lots can harbor a number of hazardous conditions, including concrete car stops, potholes, misdirected cars due to faded pavement arrows, and uneven pavement. This becomes particularly troublesome if there is inadequate lighting, or ice or snow that is not promptly removed. Clearing ice and snow, and keeping the parking lot maintained in good condition, are essential elements in being proactive to help prevent injury to your customers and to reduce the risk of costly claims and lawsuits.

If you are interested in learning more about what the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP can do to help your business,  please contact Matthew H. Fry, Esquire at the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP at 610-565-5700 or email him at [email protected].

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The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP, is located in Media, PA and serves clients in and around Media, Glen Riddle Lima, Brookhaven, Wallingford, Newtown Square, Lenni, Springfield, Swarthmore, Chester, Aston, Bryn Mawr, Morton, Woodlyn, Broomall, Gradyville, Folsom, Chester Heights, Crum Lynne, Glen Mills, Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, Drexel Hill, Marple, Bethel, Garnet Valley, Chadds Ford Concord, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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