In Indiana, winter weather conditions pose a challenge to safety on commercial properties. If you’ve slipped and fallen on an icy walkway belonging to a business in Indiana, you may wonder about the responsibility of the business owner to prevent these accidents.
Business owners must provide a safe environment for customers. This can mean shoveling snow, removing hazards, and laying down salt to prevent slips and falls.
Understanding commercial property owner’s duty of care in Indiana and what constitutes negligence can help you seek fair compensation for your injuries after a slip and fall.
Do Business Owners Have to Lay Down Salt on Icy Walkways?
Under premises liability law, business owners must provide a safe environment for their patrons, which typically extends to managing icy conditions on their property. While there is no statewide mandate explicitly requiring the use of salt to melt ice, failure to address slippery conditions may lead to a negligence claim if someone is injured.
Many owners proactively manage ice and snow by salting walkways. Salting walkways lowers the freezing point of water, which helps to melt the ice and prevent re-freezing. This makes it an effective step for reducing the risk of a slip on ice on their property.
Legal Responsibilities for Commercial Property Owners in Indiana
Under Indiana premises liability, business owners have the following responsibilities regarding snow and ice removal. If they fail in this duty, you may be able to seek compensation if you’re injured on their property.
- Clear all walkways around the property. Property owners must clear a five-foot-wide path along all walkways surrounding their property to ensure safe passage for customers and other pedestrians.
- Properly dispose of snow and ice. Cleared snow and ice should be relocated to an area where it does not obstruct streets, crosswalks, alley entrances, or fire hydrants.
- If the snowfall ceases after 7 p.m., businesses must clear sidewalks on their property by 9 a.m. the following morning. If the snow stops after 9 a.m., the clearing must be completed by 7 p.m. the same day.
- Accessibility compliance. Commercial properties must provide accessibility for all, including those with disabilities, per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means keeping ramps and walkways clear of hazards like ice or snow.
- Warning signage. If immediate removal is not possible, businesses must put up warning signs or barriers to inform of hazardous conditions and prevent access to areas where pedestrians might be injured.
Proving Your Slip and Fall Case
To win compensation in a slip and fall case, you must determine whether or not the business took reasonable steps to prevent injuries. At Wagner Reese, our Indiana slip and fall injury lawyers can help prove business owner negligence related to ice removal.
If you’ve fallen due to unsalted, icy walkways, we’re here to help you build a case that clearly shows:
- Duty of care. We can establish that the business owner had a responsibility to ensure walkways were salted and clear of ice. This duty is assumed for invitees such as customers.
- Breach of duty. Our attorneys can collect evidence that despite this responsibility, the necessary precautions – such as salting the walkway – were not taken. This can demonstrate a clear breach of duty.
- We can help determine a direct connection between the lack of salt on the walkway and your slip and fall accident, showing the owner’s failure to act caused your injury.
- Damages incurred. We can investigate your case and assess the extent of your injuries and other losses from the fall, such as lost wages. This includes gathering pictures, medical records, pay stubs, and working with expert witnesses to prove your damages and help you receive compensation for the business owner’s negligence.
What Should Business Owners Do to Keep Everyone Safe?
To maintain safe conditions, business owners should be proactive and adopt a set of best practices for safety. These preventative practices include:
- Regularly patrol for hazards. Business owners should walk their property frequently, checking for any hazardous ice or snow that could pose a risk to visitors. They should take immediate steps to melt or remove the hazards to prevent customer injuries.
- Salt before the freeze. Commercial property owners can salt before frost or snow begins to stop ice from forming. They should continue salting throughout a storm and afterward to maintain traction, depending on foot traffic and temperatures.
- Display clear signage. As soon as an icy patch is known, owners should place warning signs in the affected area to inform patrons of the slip risk. This is especially important when immediate de-icing is not an option.
- Craft an ice and snow removal plan. Businesses should have a clear plan for when snow starts to fall, specifying who will clear the paths and how often. This ensures that access to the business remains open and safe.
Navigate the Aftermath of Your Injury with Our Slip and Fall Injury Lawyers
If you’ve suffered an injury due to slipping on ice that should have been melted or removed, you may be left with high medical costs and long-term consequences to your enjoyment of life. Our attorneys at Wagner Reese know Indiana’s snow and ice removal codes. We can help you hold a business owner responsible if their negligence caused your injuries.
Contact our legal team today for a free consultation. We can advocate for your rights and help you seek a fair settlement for your damages.