‘Tis the Season to Shovel and Salt your Sidewalk

It isn’t technically even winter yet and we have already had two measurable winter storms in Chester County and Delaware County! Yikes! Are we in for three more months of this?

If you live or own a business or other property in the area, then you are likely, at the very least,  loosely familiar with your town or borough’s ordinances regarding the clearing of snow and ice from sidewalks and other public pathways after a snow or ice event. Some towns will even levy fines against homeowners or business owners who do not clear these walkways within a certain specified amount of time following a storm.

What should be more concerning to property owners is the liability involved with slip and fall cases following a snow or ice event. Yes, these cases absolutely end up in courts of law. Assuming that a pedestrian was within his or her right to be using the sidewalk in question, all that needs to be proven is that the property owner should have had reasonable knowledge of the weather event and had reasonable time in which to clear the area.

Some factors that do come into play are strength and duration of the storm, temperature before and after the storm and type of property (commercial or residential).

Last year, there was a case in Pennsylvania in which a pedestrian fell in front of a business over a snowy weekend. As the business was closed for the weekend, it was ruled that the business would have had no reasonable notice of the conditions and therefore the court found in favor of the business.

That said, if you have a sidewalk in front of your home or business, don’t delay in addressing snow and ice this time of year. It is best to spend a little bit extra time and money and make sure things are done correctly, than to have a lawsuit on your lap for negligence.