Homeowners in Portland enjoy many things like lush green lawns in the summertime and skyrocketing property values all year long. In winter, homeowners also have the neat responsibility to keep their sidewalks clear of treacherous ice and debris. Although specific ordinances vary by city, Oregon law places the burden on home and property owners (and occupants) to keep sidewalks safe. If a person slips or falls and hurts himself on a sidewalk, the owner of the property adjacent to that sidewalk can be held personally liable for all claims resulting from the accident.
Slip and fall injuries are quite common, impacting 2.5 million older adults each year. They frequently take place in and around the home, and instances of these accidents soar in the winter months. Slippery surfaces from rain, sleet, ice, and snow almost beg pedestrians to trip and fall, which can lead to serious and even disabling injuries. When these accidents occur in residential areas, the city places takes a hands-off approach, passing all responsibility for damages onto homeowners.
Shoveling the Sidewalk May Hurt Your Back, But Not Your Wallet
Homeowners who exercise the duty of care are much less likely to face lawsuits over a poorly tended sidewalk than homeowners who let snow pile up, melt, and refreeze. Slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence in the winter months, and while they mostly occur on the properties of businesses that fail to keep their parking lots and entryways clear, homeowners are just as susceptible to costly lawsuits.
Perhaps, years of America’s Funniest Home Video reruns and slapstick has rendered us desensitized to slip and fall incidents as a nation. The consequences of these slips and falls are no joke. Injuries that slip and fall victims sustain can be similar to those suffered in other horrific accidents like tragic car accidents and ski accidents. Among the most common injuries are:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Back injuries
In the worst of scenarios, a person could even die after sustaining traumatic injuries from the fall. The elderly are more susceptible to death after a slip and fall accident than any other group. As one can imagine, the costs to repair the damage done can soar into the tens of thousands of dollars, or even break six figures as damages may also include the costs of long-term recovery and pain and suffering.
The majority of slip and fall accidents take place on the property of businesses, which receive the highest volume of slip and fall accident claims. Customers file claims against grocery stores, gas stations, shopping plazas and other businesses when they do not properly shovel, sand, or de-ice parking lots or entryways. It’s rare for homeowners to become the target of a lawsuit, but why take the chance?
Smart Precautions to Prevent Portland Slip and Fall Accidents
Property owners can take measures to protect themselves from a premises liability lawsuit. Portland requires home and property owners to clear the sidewalk as soon as possible after a snowfall. It is also recommended to scatter salt, unused cat litter or gravel to add traction to slippery surfaces. Additionally, homeowners should:
- Shovel like they mean it. Don’t leave patches of ice or snow as it will melt and freeze, turning into black ice.
- Pile snow in an area where it won’t freeze over the pathway when it melts.
- Check that nearby drains are clear and ready to divert melted snowfall.
- Fix uneven or broken sidewalks and stairs before they get covered in snow.
- Watch for puddles after rain; they will turn to ice patches when the temperature drops.
- Warn passersby of particularly hazardous areas by putting up signs or cones.
It’s important to remember that a lawsuit can only be brought forth if negligence can be established, meaning that the property owner must have known about a potential hazard and done nothing to correct it before someone got hurt. Local snow shoveling laws vary from city to city. In some cities like Hillsboro, property owners must remove snow and ice within eight daylight hours after a storm covers the sidewalks. Be sure to check your city’s guidelines and follow them to avoid liability.
There must be proof that the property owner failed to act with reasonable care to establish a slip and fall case. Attorney Richard Rizk thoroughly investigates each claim to determine whether there is potential to file a claim. He stands up for those who are injured, ensuring that they receive every cent they deserve in the wake of their suffering. Contact RizkLaw at (503) 245-5677 or reach out to us online to discuss your personal injury case.