Businesses are not required to make their stores or other facilities perfectly safe. Under North Carolina law, they must take what the courts refer to as reasonable step.
What does that look like in practical terms with snow and ice?
First, if it is likely someone might not notice or understand the danger, the business needs to either remove the danger, or put up a warning to keep the public safe. Thus, it is common in supermarkets and restaurants for the staff to put up orange cones to warn about spills, even when they’ve already mopped up.
Second, if a hazard is obvious, an adult is responsible to notice the hazard and choose to avoid it or take their chances. That seems like a fair rule, but most businesses will go a bit further and put up a warning or barricade, or try to remove the hazard if possible. Children are often not assumed to have the same ability to protect themselves as an adult, particularly in the pre-teen years, so extra precautions may be necessary.
So, how can business owners protect themselves from claims of injuries on their premises due to snow and ice? They can plan in advance, trying to identify likely hidden hazards before the storm hits. Then, when the time comes they can execute their plan.
A dose of common sense combined with your company’s lawyer helping you understand your company’s legal duty is time and money well invested. Litigation is costly and lengthy, with an uncertain outcome. Not to mention that we would all like to see people avoid injury.