Temperatures rarely drop below freezing in Georgia even during the coldest winter months, and residents of the Peach State are often unprepared on the rare occasions when snow does fall and ice forms. Even an inch or two of snow can cause Georgia highways to slow to a crawl, and a thin layer of ice can make walking on the state’s sidewalks and driveways extremely treacherous.
When a state workers’ compensation fund looked into accidental deaths in the United States, it found that only automobile accidents kill more Americans than trips, slips and falls. The organization also discovered that icy parking lots and sidewalks accounted for an overwhelming 80 percent of these accidents. Georgia residents can avoid these dangers by assuming that wet surfaces could be dangerous, walking on the southern side of roads or paths and keeping their hands free to grab onto a handrail or other object should they start to fall.
Dressing appropriately can also play a role. Hands are more likely to be kept free in cold weather when gloves are worn, and shoes or boots with robust soles that provide ample traction can greatly reduce the chances of a mishap. Padded coats can limit injuries by cushioning a fall, and even those who do not ordinarily use a cane could find a walking stick of some kind useful when temperatures plunge. Individuals hoping to remain upright while walking on ice should also tread carefully and deliberately and spread their feet.
Property owners and managers are expected to do all that they reasonably can to protect their visitors from harm, and this includes clearing snow or ice from walkways and parking lots thoroughly and quickly. When this obligation is not met, attorneys with experience in premises liability litigation could pursue civil remedies on behalf of those who have been injured as a result.