Statistics for winter slip-and fall-injuries can be difficult to come by, but insurance companies and those who deal with worker injuries are among those who keep track of the numbers. The reason is that they are the ones who end up dealing with claims from companies and homeowners that have had people injure themselves on their property. SFM, an organization specializing in workers compensation in the U.S., has compiled information from their clients that points to the importance of snow removal and the overall cost of negligence in clearing properties.
According to the U.S.’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical costs for winter slips and falls hit $50 billion in 2015. Considering the population of the U.S. is slightly less than ten times that of Canada’s, it stands to reason that this country’s toll is in the range of $5 billion.
In the same year in the U.S., 800,000 were hospitalized due to slip and fall injuries, mainly of the hip and head. SFM claims data reveals that 25% of ice- and snow-related falls occur in parking lots and 20% of those result in missed work time.
Workers who sustain injuries from winter slips and falls often take multiple days to recover, which results in time off from work. SFM calculates the average winter slip-and-fall lost-time claim to be between $40,000 and $45,000.
In Canada, property owners can be sued for liability if someone slips and falls on their property. Section 5 of the Occupiers’ Liability Act of Alberta states:
An occupier of premises owes a duty to every visitor on the occupier’s premises to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case is reasonable to see that the visitor will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purposes for which the visitor is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there or is permitted by law to be there.
You are at risk of being sued if someone trips, slips or falls when:
- Your property is unsafe, such as there is icy pavement and wet floors.
- There are hazardous conditions that could have been repaired, such as cracks in your pathways.
- You fail to post warning signs advising of any known hazards.
- The accident could have been avoided if you had taken precautions.
- You fail to have written inspection and maintenance procedures in place.
The best way to protect yourself is to ensure your property is completely free of snow and ice at all times. Not only does this protect your family, friends, customers, and employees, it also helps protect your reputation. A failure to keep your property in good shape sends off the impression that you don’t care about the welfare of others, which is not a welcoming invitation for anyone.
If someone slips and falls on your property
If someone slips and falls on your property and injures themselves, take the following steps right away:
- Call for medical assistance. Any delay in medical attention could result in injuries worsening. Keep them comfortable and provide first aid as needed.
- Document the date and time of the incident for you and your insurance company’s records. Create a complete incident report including the victim’s name, what the temperature and conditions were like (Was it snowing? Sleeting?), and the names of any witnesses.
- Take photos of the area where the accident occurred.
- Immediately address the area. Break up the ice and remove, put down salt to melt the excess, and erect signs to warn others.
- Do not admit responsibility. Allow your insurance company and legal representation to take the lead and control of the situation.
Ensure your snow removal company is properly insured
Unfortunately, some snow removal companies are not reliable when it comes to insurance. Premiums have been rising due to the soaring cost of liability claims, and some unscrupulous companies are choosing to forego insurance altogether as a result.
Payouts for liability claims has risen by about 108% over the last several years. Some business owners, or those who are doing snow removal as a “side gig,” are just crossing their fingers hoping that nobody will ask and nothing will happen. That’s why we highly advise that anyone looking for snow removal services be very cautious about who they choose. Be sure to check that anyone you are considering hiring has proper snow removal insurance coverage. This not only protects you, it protects those who visit your property.
Mirage Landscaping is fully insured and bonded. Let us do your snow removal work for you. Winter is difficult enough without consistently having to worry about clearing your pathways, driveways, and parking lots. It’s clear that an investment in snow removal benefits everyone, and also frees you up for the more important things in life. Contact us for a free quote for both commercial and residential snow removal services in Calgary.