If you live in a state like Idaho, you expect a certain amount of care must be used when walking on icy sidewalks and walkways. But when we enter a business or an establishment, we assume we are safe to do so.
We expect that entryways will be dry and there will be no obstacles in the walk that we can trip over. We assume that if we head for an emergency exit, there will be no ice on the walk causing us to fall. But, are we correct in this assumption?
A property owner has a responsibility to guard the safety of customers and employees. Of course, we understand that floors must be mopped and waxed at times.
We understand that roofs leak, storms blow through, and storms come up sometimes when no one is around to correct the problem.
What the law expects is that precautions are taken to correct problems quickly. If a problem is found, warnings must be visible, and they must be obvious to a person entering.
As you can tell, this is not a clear-cut situation. But, we will give you a few examples of what would be considered unreasonable behavior:
● Putting up a wet floor sign but not showing where the floor is wet. For example, if the kitchen floor is wet and the manager puts a note on the bulletin board warning of the wet floor, this is unreasonable. An employee would not be expected to enter the kitchen and go to the bulletin board to read for floor conditions before walking to the coffee pot.
● Mopping and waxing while the office or work area is filled with people.
● Over-waxing the floor or using wax that leaves a slick and slippery finish.
● Treating one section of the walkway to clear ice or wax, but leaving the other section susceptible.
● Knowing that the building leaks and freezes over and over again, and not taking the proper steps to correct the problem.
● Allowing people to block emergency exits with boxes or equipment.
It is the property owner’s obligation to ensure their property is hazard-free. If the carpet is frayed, there are weak spots in the walkway boards, and the toilet leaks overnight; these issues are common maintenance problems. The property owner can be held liable if he or she knew about the danger or if he should have known about the danger and ignored it.
Entry areas should be well lit, and landscape items should not block the walk or prevent anyone from seeing a danger.
If the property owner has marked the problem well, blocked off any danger areas, and has initiated repair, he or she probably will not be held liable. When the health and well-being of people are at risk, it is better to block off an entry or close the building until the repair takes place.
As you can see, it takes a skilled premises liability lawyer in Idaho to help you understand what the responsibilities of the property owners are.
A slip and fall accident can happen indoors or outdoors. Property owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment.
Even though people are expected to behave in a safe manner, it is ultimately up to the property owner to inspect, and correct issues that can cause serious injury or death to people who enter their establishment.