Proper winterization of your property can help to protect your home from damage and save you a great deal in expensive repairs. However, it can also save you a great deal in expensive liability lawsuits. When your property is not properly winterized, your home is not the only thing at risk, and you can be held liable for the decision to not care for your property. Keep reading to learn more about how proper winterization can protect you from liability lawsuits.
Icy Sidewalks and Stairs
Shoveling snow off your driveway and front walk is hardly an enjoyable task, but ignoring it often results in the snow becoming packed down into an icy slick that can be quite dangerous to walk in. As a homeowner, you bear responsibility for not only your driveway and front walkway, but the sidewalk in front of your home as well. If someone were to slip and fall on ice that’s on your property, you could face a personal injury lawsuit for your failure to reasonably maintain your property.
This applies to your backyard as well. If you have a back porch and stairs, and they become icy in the winter, you are responsible for de-icing them. Of course, you won’t have to worry about passersby slipping and falling in this area. However, if you have guests over, you are considered liable for their wellbeing while on your property. This means ensuring the areas they will be in are safe, or at the very least, warning them of the dangers in that area. If you’re not able to de-ice your back porch, and your guests will be going into that area, make sure that you warn them about the ice and encourage them to take precautions or use a different route to the backyard.
Broken Tree Limbs
Sometimes, heavy snowfall or ice accumulation can break tree branches. They will crack enough so that they hang limply from the tree, but won’t fall entirely to the ground. Those hanging branches are dangerous to anyone who has to walk under or near them. If the branches are in an area accessible to the public, you could be liable if someone is injured due to a tree branch finally falling from the tree. Additionally, if another winter storm blows in and breaks the branch from the tree, causing property damage to your neighbor’s home, you might be held liable for that damage as well, if it can be proven your failure to remove the tree branch directly resulted in the damage.
If you notice tree limbs damaged by winter storms or ice accumulation, make sure you cut them off as soon as possible. This will not only protect you from potential lawsuits, but will also protect your own home from possible damage.
Winter can be harsh on the exterior of your home. Winter weather can cause concrete to crack, stair railings to become loose, or exterior shutters to be damaged. If you notice that Father Winter has been wreaking havoc on parts of your home, make sure that you correct them immediately. These kinds of issues can injure someone who is visiting your property and, if it’s proven you knew of the hazard but did nothing to correct it, you could be held liable for those injuries.
While the inside of your home doesn’t generally need to be winterized too thoroughly, thanks to the miracle of modern heating, there are still important considerations to keep in mind regarding liability. Many individuals have guests in their homes during the holidays, whether for a large meal or for an extended visit. Before you welcome guests into your home, make sure that all potential hazards are corrected or at least clearly marked.
This can include things like loose railings on stairs or lofts, broken stairs, uneven flooring, cords that pose a tripping hazard, and more. You should also do your best to make sure that nobody is tracking in snow or water, turning your floors into a slippery mess that could injure someone. Few things can ruin a holiday gathering more quickly than a serious injury—except perhaps for a serious injury that’s followed by accusations of negligence and liability.
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’re being held liable for someone’s injuries on your property, contact The Harr Law Firm today. We will discuss your case with you and help you determine the best way to protect yourself from a frivolous lawsuit. We can also present individuals who have been injured due to the negligence of another person or party. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.