As the winter weather continues into March, the personal injury lawyers in New Jersey at Grungo Colarulo want to remind everyone to stay safe while walking. Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injury, and accounted for more than half of the claims against co-ops and condos last year. Property owners have a responsibility to correct hazardous conditions in and around their buildings in order to prevent these accidents.
Although not all slip and fall accidents are the result of inclement weather, ice and snow are a serious hazard when left on sidewalks. Local ordinances may vary, but generally, property owners are expected to shovel within a few hours of snow or ice beginning to accumulate and continue to do so periodically until the storm passes. If the ice is too hard to remove without damaging the pavement, it must be removed as soon as it is safe to do so. Property managers can also put up signs warning pedestrians of icy conditions, but this is not a replacement for properly treating the sidewalk.
Snowy or rainy conditions may also result in wet floors inside the building, which can be a slip and fall hazard for tenants and visitors. Buildings should utilize rain mats when necessary and make sure that any carpets are laid properly and not worn down. If puddles develop inside the building, they should be mopped up, and lobbies should be checked regularly to prevent water from accumulating.
Accidents Can Occur Without Inclement Weather
Co-ops, condos, and rental buildings with more than three residences are responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions on the sidewalks around the building. Uneven sidewalks, often the result of tree roots, can catch pedestrians by surprise and result in serious slip and fall injury.
Property managers should replace or grind down cracked and uneven cement and fill in areas around trees to make them even. Expansion joints between cement flags should be filled in evenly with the ground to prevent shoes from getting caught.
Swimming pools can also be very hazardous areas, as the ground around the pool is often wet and slippery. Many properties require tenants to sign a waiver before using pool facilities, and children must be supervised at all times. The property should provide lifeguard services for all hours that the pool is open.
Any shared areas of the building must have proper floor coverings. Carpets, mats, and runners should be feathered, gradually meeting the floor to prevent edges from getting caught, and should be surrounded by a rubber border. Rugs must also be secured to the floor using carpet tape to prevent curling or sliding.