Whether you own a home, business, or both, you may invite many guests to your property for the holidays. You should know your legal responsibilities when doing so. Under New York City’s premises liability laws, you have a duty to keep your property free from hazardous conditions for the safety of your guests and other visitors.
Achieving this goal may be more complex than usual when your properties are crowded. Large crowds increase the chances that accidents will occur. To avoid premises liability lawsuits this time of year, keep the following tips in mind:
Invest in Snow Clearing and De-icing Equipment
A property owner is responsible for promptly clearing snow and ice from their parking lots, driveways, walkways, and other such surfaces. According to the City of New York, property owners also must:
- Remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of their properties. They must create paths at least four feet wide when doing so.
- Clear snow and ice to create paths to crosswalks if their properties are on corners.
- Remove snow from bus stops and fire hydrants in front of their properties.
Make sure you have shovels, de-icing agents, and any other tools you’ll need on hand. You don’t want to scramble to purchase them if an unexpected storm hits the region.
Hire Seasonal Help
One of the best ways to avoid premises liability lawsuits during the holidays as a retail store owner is to hire seasonal employees. If your store gets busy this time of year, guests may be at greater-than-average risk of being hurt in slips and falls or similar accidents.
Such accidents often occur because of hazardous conditions store ownership or employees fail to address promptly. For example, in a crowded store, it’s easy for guests to knock items onto floors.
Other guests can trip over these items if employees don’t remove them. Hiring extra employees during the holidays ensures more people are watching out for hazards on your behalf.
Another frequent hazard in wintry conditions is wet floormats or floor surfaces just inside the front door. These are a slipping hazard when ice and snow are tracked in. Having an employee whose duties include frequent mopping or clearing of these areas can reduce the slip and fall accidents that could occur here.
Thoroughly Review Holiday Decor Instructions
Decorating your products with holiday light displays and other such decor isn’t just a way to get into the spirit of the season. If you own a business, such displays can also help your business stand out among the competition.
Remember to carefully review any safety information that accompanies your lights and decor. Sometimes, holiday light displays can lead to fires. Make sure any cords are properly corralled and kept away from walkways so they don’t pose a tripping hazard.
Check Outdoor Lighting
Snow and ice aren’t the only hazards that can lead to trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accidents in the outdoor areas of your property. Navigating a walkway or parking lot at night can be very challenging with inadequate outdoor lighting.
Confirm your outdoor lighting is sufficient to keep guests safe. Install additional lighting or upgrade your current lighting fixtures if it isn’t.
Control Kitchen Access
Your kitchen may be home to no shortage of potential hazards when you’re cooking for a large group during a holiday celebration. Examples may include open flames, sharp kitchen tools, spills, raw food, and more.
To avoid premises liability lawsuits, control who does and doesn’t have access to the kitchen. Keeping this room off-limits to people who aren’t actively helping with prepping food can also help you focus more on cooking while it reduces the number of people who could be harmed by accident.
Check Your Property for Hazards More Often
One way to avoid premises liability lawsuits any time of year is to regularly inspect your property for hazards. During the holidays, inspect it more often than you normally would. Being a little more vigilant than usual this time of year can go a long way toward preventing accidents.
Contact an NYC Premises Liability Attorney
Taking these steps can help you avoid premises liability lawsuits during one of the busiest times of the year. Unfortunately, you might get hurt during the holidays if another property owner isn’t as cautious and responsible as you are.
You may be eligible for compensation if you sustained harm due to a property owner’s negligence. Learn more about your options by discussing your case with an NYC premises liability lawyer. Our team at Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb is on hand to offer the representation you deserve now.
Or perhaps someone has filed a premises liability lawsuit against you. This can happen even if you take steps to avoid such lawsuits. If so, we can offer the defense you need. Get started by contacting us online or calling us today at 800-PAIN-LAW for a free case review.