Winter is here, and that means we’re sure to get some heavy snow fall in the next few months. When a snowstorm hits, or even when it’s just ended, it can be tempting to bunker down and spend the rest of the day inside in the comfort of your toasty warm home. While this may sound like the more appealing option, the reality is that homeowners have a responsibility to maintain their premises – that means braving the cold to shovel the driveway, clear walkways and de-ice the commonly used areas around your home.

In a perfect world, this type of home maintenance would get done right away after every big snowfall or ice storm. Unfortunately, not all homeowners make it a priority. While it may seem like there are no consequences to leaving the snow and ice for a day or two, the truth is that anyone who enters onto your property in these conditions could sustain serious injuries. If this happens, you could be held responsible for their injuries due to premises liability.

What is premises liability?

Premises liability, or occupiers’ liability, means that property owners have a responsibility to make sure anyone entering onto their property is safe. Property owners can do this by removing hazards from commonly-used areas, like walkways or driveways, or by warning visitors of any hazards that may be present, before they enter onto your property.

Because we live in Southwestern Ontario where snow and ice can become major hazards on any property, it’s important to remember how premises liability might come into play. For example, let’s say there’s a major snowfall on Monday. You think about going to clear the driveway and walkways, but you aren’t expecting anyone over to your house until Thursday night, so you decide to leave it for the time being. By Wednesday, you still haven’t cleared the snow and the walkways have become slippery. That morning, a UPS driver comes to drop off a package you ordered and slips and falls on your property. Now, you could be held liable for the driver’s injuries, because you did not remove the hazards on your property and failed to keep your visitors safe. This is how premises liability works.

How to maintain your property in the winter

While removing hazards from your property should be a focus for homeowners all year long, it’s important to provide extra care and caution during the winter months, as snow and ice can accumulate quickly. Here are some key actions you can take to increase the safety of your property this season:

  • Shovel often – Make an effort to shovel your driveway and walkways often, especially after major snowfalls. This will ensure that commonly used areas of your property are clear and accessible.
  • Salt icy areas – Ice can accumulate quickly in our cold climate, making it more likely for visitors, guests and even family members to slip and fall. You can combat this by keeping ice salt on hand and applying it to high-trafficked areas.
  • Don’t forget about stairs – Some homeowners forget how important it is to maintain their stairs in the winter months. Whether it’s the stairs leading to your front door, or the stairs leading off your back deck, it’s important to shovel off steps and add salt when necessary. After all, this is the main access point to your home, and steps can become a hazard if not properly maintained.

Contact Harrison Pensa

If you already take the necessary steps to remove hazards from your property, you’re on the right track to ensure the safety of visitors and to protecting yourself from premise liability. With that being said, not all property owners may take this same caution when it comes to hazard removal. If you or someone you love encounter a situation where you’ve sustained injuries on the property of others due to their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to understand what options are available to you. Our knowledgeable team at Harrison Pensa is always available to help. Contact us by phone at 1-855-744-9228 or by email at personalinjurygroup@harrisonpensa.com

A word from our clients

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"Andy Rady is an excellent lawyer who is also a talented, caring, compassionate person. He listens carefully and treats clients with respect."
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October 16, 2019

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