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Is our Sledding Tradition At Risk Reduce Liability Lawsuit Fears

Is our Sledding Tradition At Risk Reduce Liability Lawsuit Fears

Your Healthy Home Show Listen Live - Friday 11:00am on WSAR 1480 AM or Online

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Sledding; Is this family tradition at risk? What you should know to reduce liability & lawsuit fears.

Steve and Joe talk about how some city and towns are banning sledding and how homeowner could ba at risk..

An American Tradition

Sledding has been a long lasting tradition of good old fashion American fun! Bumps, bruises and even an occasional bloody nose never stopped us from sliding down a hill with family and friends. We often don't think of safety when sledding in winter snow, but there are some safety concerns we should know about.

Picture of sledding in 1930's

Liability and Lawsuits

Towns are banning sledding over liability and lawsuit fears. Dubuque, Iowa is one of many city and towns that have outlawed all sledding in parks with exception of two out of fifty parks. Omaha, Nebraska has had two judgments in sledding lawsuits in the past decade. Why can't we just assume the risk, Post signs: "SLED AT OWN RISK".

The Center for Injury Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found sledding accidents led to more than 20,000 emergency room visits a year. Over 50% of the injuries occurred during a collision. Researchers say young people were more likely to sustain head injuries from collision injuries. The center recommends some safety guidelines. Some parents say all the research and rule making are taking fun out of childhood sledding.

Vintage Sleds:

Are Property Owners Liable?

Property owners in some states are liable for injuries related to snow and ice. Massachusetts Supreme Court rules property owners liable for all snow and ice accumulations. The SJC abolished the long-standing distinction between "natural" and "unnatural" accumulations of snow and ice in slip-and-fall cases. If you're a property owner in the state of Massachusetts: by law you must remove or treat snow and ice in areas where people access. You can now be held liable for injuries caused by snow and or ice on your property. This law went into effect in July of 2010. The law applies to all property owners, both commercial and residential. Towns may also create bylaws relative to snow and ice on buildings and sidewalks and property owner responsibility.

Premises Liability: When someone enters your property, they have a reasonable expectation of not getting injured. This means that you, as a property owner (or non-owner resident), are responsible for maintaining a relatively safe environment.

Legal Status of Visitor: Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser?

  • An invitee is someone who is invited onto the property of another, such as a customer in a store. This invitation usually implies that the property owner/possessor has taken reasonable steps to assure the safety of the premises.
  • A licensee enters property for his own purpose, or as a social guest, and is present at the consent of the owner.
  • A social guest is just that, a welcome visitor to the property.
  • Finally, a trespasser enters without any right whatsoever to do so. In the case of licensees and trespassers, there is no implied promise that reasonable care has been made to assure the safety of the property

Condition of the Property and Actions of the Visitor: Foreseeable of the accident or injury that occurred. Reasonableness of the owner/possessor's effort to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors.

Trespassers on Property: With respect to trespassers, if the owner knows that it is likely trespassers will enter the property, he or she may be charged with a duty to give reasonable warning to prevent injury.

Children on Property: A landowner's duty to warn is different with respect to children who are not authorized to be on a property. A property owner/possessor must give warning if he or she knows (or should know) that children are likely to be on the premises, and that a dangerous condition on the premises is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death.

Reduce Liability For Lawsuit Claims

  • Check to make sure you have an appropriate level of insurance liability coverage.
  • Review state and local by-laws for snow removal. (What is required by law)
  • know who is responsible for snow removal; If you rent a house, you may or may not be responsible for the snow removal. If you live in an apartment building, you're less likely to be the one shoveling the snow.
  • Inspect entrance way and areas of access (walkways/driveways) regularly during storms.
  • Provide adequate and timely snow / ice removal and treatment.
  • Post signs for no trespassing for areas that are not a standard access to your property.

Reduce Sledding Injuries: Tips

  • Wears a helmet.
  • An adult should be present when young children are sledding.
  • Avoid areas with trees, fences, and rocks
  • Avoid slopes that end in a street, parking lot or pond.
  • Allow only one child down the hill at a time.
  • Don't allow a child to walk up the same hill that another child is sledding down.
  • Don't use sled substitutes, detached automobile hoods … kitchen sink!
  • If a sled won't stop or you think you will hit something, roll off.
  • Never ride on a sled that is being pulled by a moving vehicle or motorized equipment.
  • Use a sled with a steering mechanism.

Listen to show for more tips:

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