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Businesses: Keep clean sidewalks and parking lots in the winter

Living in Maine has many perks, including the fact that residents get to enjoy four seasons. Many other states do not get the pleasure of a brilliantly colored autumn and a blustery, white winter. Of course, with the enjoyment of the seasons, come the unique hurdles and complications created by changing weather patterns.

Winter snow and ice storms create unique challenges for residents in the Portland area. Snow and ice accumulation on sidewalks and parking lots, in particular, create risk for pedestrians who could easily slip-and-fall without prompt removal of snow and ice. That's why there are city laws in place mandating the timely removal of snow and ice after a storm.

Portland law mandates clean sidewalks after the end of a storm

When it starts snowing, the precipitation can last for hours or even several days. Removing accumulation and build-up as the snow (sleet, hail, etc.) is still coming down is not always the most efficient or practical solution. That could mean paying several times for the same service. However, once the snow stops, property owners and business managers have an obligation to the public.

Portland law gives businesses 12 hours after the end of a snowstorm to clear their sidewalks. If they fail to do so, the city may send out snow removal professionals in charge of the business for that expense. More importantly, that failure can also lead to preventable injuries to customers or even staff members who slip on the sidewalks.

While city law doesn't specifically require that parking lots receive the same prompt attention, liability concerns should motivate business managers and owners to clear parking lots as well.

Customers and employees will have to traverse the parking lot after a snowstorm. If anyone ends up slipping and falling because the business failed to address accumulated ice or snow, the injured person may have a premises liability claim for any injuries they suffer.

Negligence or maintenance failures create liability for businesses

When you go to the store, you have the right to a safe environment. When businesses fail to perform adequate maintenance or are negligent about snow removal after a big storm, it can create unnecessary risk for visitors to the business.

If you slip and fall in the parking lot of a business or on unclean sidewalks outside of a commercial property, you should report the fall to the manager on duty as soon as possible. Seeking prompt medical evaluation is also important, as it helps correlate your injuries directly to the slip-and-fall incident.

If you wind up hurt because a business didn't have a proactive approach to snow removal, you might want to explore whether you have any rights to compensation through a premises liability claim.

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Terry Garmey & Associates
482 Congress Street
Suite 402
Portland, ME 04101

Phone: 207-331-3111
Fax: 207-541-9242
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