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Explaining premises liability and storm cleanup

Storms can roll through the San Mateo area without notice. They can bring with them heavy wind, downpours, lightning and leave behind quite a bit of damage. Many property owners often wonder how long they have to clean up their property following a storm. They worry for good reason too. They don't want you to get hurt from the hazards left by the storm if you stop by for a visit, causing a premises liability lawsuit.

No one expects a property owner to remove the hazards left behind by a storm as it happens. This would just be too dangerous for them and anyone else who decides to do it. Property owners are expected to remove the hazards within 24 hours of the storm coming to an end. This is a more reasonable expectation that allows property owners time to assess the damage and figure out what they need to do.

This is what is known as a storm doctrine or storm in progress doctrine. Many municipalities and cities enact these doctrines to protect residential and commercial property owners from lawsuits stemming from injuries suffered due to storm damage. The doctrines provide property owners enough time to clean the debris without risk of being sued.

Businesses should have a plan in place for removing all debris and hazards from the property following a storm. The company might never have to put this policy into action but it should still create one in the event it is needed. Having a policy in place will reduce the amount of time needed to take action.

If you happen to visit a neighbor's or a family member's property immediately following a storm, you need to be on the lookout for hazards and debris to avoid injury as they might not have cleaned up yet. Don't forget, they have 24 hours from the end of the storm to make the property safe again, according to local storm doctrines.

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