Lawsuit is the last word a retail property owner wants to hear. But the variables on your site — especially after dark — can increase liability when the landscape is not properly maintained. Low brush can block views, and damaged hardscape and curbs are trip hazards. Come winter, snow and ice introduce a litany of potential slip-and-fall scenarios.
Even in plain view during the day, common landscape trouble areas can cause problems. The good news is, there are some basic enhancements that can increase nighttime safety and improve how your retail property functions. Here are common nighttime landscape liabilities followed by effective strategies that will reduce your risk.
Identifying Nighttime Landscape Liabilities
Slips, falls and accidents that occur on retail properties are never planned. Most of us aren’t touring our properties thinking about worst-case scenarios. At night, vision is naturally impaired unless proper landscaping lighting is in place.
Unfortunately, a lawsuit can be devastating to business — and what retailer wants to forfeit profits for attorney fees? What’s more, accidents on your property can damage your reputation. At HighGrove, we notice common problems on retail properties that can be corrected to create a much safer environment for guests.
Dead Trees and Limbs
Trees provide shade and beauty to your retail landscape. But when pruning or overall tree health is ignored, you can end up with unwelcome, costly surprises.
At night, pedestrians might not recognize or avoid a compromised branch. (A limb falling from 100 feet above could cause serious personal injury and damage to your property, parked vehicles, etc.)
Safety Strategy: Stay up-to-date with tree care and ensure that branches are properly pruned. Remove dead trees.
Overgrown and low brush can block views that are critical for pedestrian and vehicle safety. Clear sightlines are critical for safety and reducing liability, day or night.
Safety Strategy: Rejuvenation pruning not only promotes healthy plant growth, it clears away branches and overgrown brush that is obstructing views.
Curb and Walkway Destruction
Over time, high-traffic walkways and patio spaces can break down in spots. Pits in hard surfaces and deteriorating curbs present a tripping hazard. During nighttime, pedestrians might not notice that a curb is compromised or a hardscaped area contains cracks.
Safety Strategy: These surface issues are a deeper concern than one might think. What happens if someone gets injured because of deteriorating property that you own? (Why would you want to find that out the hard way?) Take care to make hardscape, curb and other surface repairs to your landscape so you can provide safe walking grounds for visitors.
Snow and Ice
Winter weather increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents, even on regularly landscaped retail properties. At night, icy patches are less visible and can surprise visitors — after they fall. Don’t wait for accidents to happen. Also remember, an employee injury on site could result in a workers’ compensation claim, lost time and a possible lawsuit.
Safety Strategy: Take proper precautions by enlisting in a professional landscape service to manage snow and ice so you can rest assured that your retail property is safe for people who shop and work on your property.
A Site Evaluation Is The First Step to Securing Your Retail Landscape
Not sure what areas of your landscape could prompt a lawsuit? Find out through a site evaluation that includes assessing for liability and safety. It’s a good idea to get an evaluation of your property on a quarterly basis so seasonal issues can be addressed (snow, leaves, tree pruning, etc.).
A landscape professional can recommend proper steps for improving on safety, whether rejuvenating pruning to clear out sight lines or other hazards like exposed wiring.
You can never be too careful.
At HighGrove, we are the eyes and ears on your retail property, and we are focused on ensuring that your grounds are safe for everyone who shops and works there. Ready to reduce your liabilities AND improve safety? Call us any time at 678-298-0550, or fill out this simple contact form.
Images: Icy sidewalkLast modified: July 15, 2016