Depending on the current weather conditions, all property owners should comply with the legal requirements for snow removal obligations to clear snow from sidewalks, driveways and parking lots. Berrington Snow has summarized the most important points. Let’s take a look.
Providing Publicly Accessible Paths
Snow and ice often pose an underestimated danger to pedestrian trains. Thousands of US citizens fall every winter, many so severely that they need hospital treatment.
In general, the snow removal obligation applies first and foremost to all local property owners who have property or roads accessible to the public on public land. Whether you own or manage an office building, industrial land or retail property, you have to ensure that roads in and around them are safe to walk on and free of snow and ice.
Pavements, parking lots, driveways and steps serving public transport that are less than three meters from the property must be cleared.
The Warnings Are For Immediate Action Only
The posting of warning signs or plastic sheeting is only an immediate measure and does not relieve the owner of the obligation to remove snow properly.
Severe Fine May Be Exposed
If a homeowner / manager fails or refuses to remove snow, they can be fined $100 minimum.
If someone is injured, the property owner/manager risks legal action, which is not usually covered by home insurance.
Case law does not accept the excuse that snow removal could not be carried out because there was no expert. Snow removal can also be carried out by a third party or a professional snow removal service provider.
Pedestrians Should Be Careful
Pedestrians are also responsible. They must be careful on the road so that they are not partly responsible in the event of a fall.
However, the insurer recommends that people who fall and are injured take photos of the icy sidewalk and seek witnesses to the accident. This will make it easier to settle the case in court.
Other most important points of the snow removal act, summarized in a short and understandable way:
- Snow and ice should only be removed when the snow has stopped falling. Snow removal service must then be carried out immediately.
- In case of very heavy snow, however, the snow and ice must be removed regularly and if necessary several times a day!
- If it snows between 7 am and 4:49 pm, snow must be removed within four hours. If it stops snowing at 7 pm, the owner, tenant, lessee, occupant or any other person in charge of the land or buildings must vacate them by 9.00 a.m. the following day.
- As a general rule, sidewalks must be cleared to width of one meter or 1.5 meter in case of heavy pedestrian traffic and up to the curb in the case of corner streets. Stairs must be kept free of snow and ice in full width.