December 10, 2015

If a property owner makes no effort to remove snow and ice from his or her property and then someone slips and is injured as a result, the injured party can start a premises liability lawsuit. This lawsuit can be used to force the owner to pay for the injuries since he or she neglected the snow and allowed the area to become dangerous.

There are specific ways this has to be done. The legal code in Philadelphia, for instance, says that the person must create a path that is at least 36 inches wide. That goes for any sidewalks on the property.

A big question, then, is how soon these sidewalks have to be cleared. How long does it take for the property owner to be neglectful?

Again, the code in Philly can be consulted, and it says that the person has six hours. These begin when the snow stops falling. Obviously, this can be a bit hard to track, but it generally means that the person does have some time after a storm hits.

The law is written this way to avoid punishing property owners who couldn’t have done anything differently. For example, what if the owner has to work an eight-hour shift and it snows in the middle of the day? He or she may not even get back and see the accumulation for four hours. People who are hurt by fresh snow and ice while the owner is out then cannot sure, as the owner was not neglectful.

However, if there is a lower layer of snow and ice under the new layer, one that the owner should have removed, a case could still be possible.

Those who have been injured must know their rights and when a property owner bears the responsibility for their injuries.

Source: FIndLaw, “Philadelphia Sidewalk Clearing Laws,” accessed Dec. 10, 2015