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What is a property owner's duty of care during winter conditions?

A recent article underscores the importance of taking extra precautions during the winter months, whether as a pedestrian, a driver or a property owner. The article described the effects of an ice jam on the Malheur River and its impact on the outer neighborhoods of Ontario. Due to the blockage, water levels were rising and the National Weather Service issued a flood advisory in the Payette area. 

This particular weather issue was a foreseen hazard. Unfortunately, many weather conditions are less predictable, creating slippery roads and walkways. It's no coincidence that emergency rooms also seen an uptick in slip and fall injuries during the winter months.

Although we may not be able to control the weather or other unforeseen hazards, we can control our responses. Drivers have a duty of care to pay attention and drive appropriately for the given road conditions. Business owners and government centers must clear snow and ice from their sidewalks. If a driver or property owner fails to take reasonable precautions or actions, any injuries resulting from that breach in the duty of care might be regarded as negligence, especially in the eyes of a jury.

If you were injured, there may be legal procedures that you must satisfy in order to protect your rights. In particular, there are limitations periods that apply to personal injury claims, and one of the shortest periods concerns claims for damages against a municipality. Such a municipal claim also requires that the injured party provide written notice. If you intend to seek damages for another person's or entity's negligence, make sure that you consult with an experienced personal injury law firm. Too much is at stake to make a mistake. 

Source: Argus Observer, "Snake, Malheur rivers flood, residents 'need to be ready'," Tanya Bañuelos, Jan. 10, 2017

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