an illustration of someone about slip and fall

If Someone Slips on The Ice in Front of Your Home or Business, Can You Be Held Liable?

Icy, snow-covered sidewalks are prevalent this time of year. Because of this, some cities and housing associations have regulations in place stating that the sidewalks in front of all houses and other buildings need to be kept clear of snow, in order to make walking easier. The issue with this is that removing the snow without salting properly, or even laying down rock salt or ice melt that isn’t activated because the weather is too cold, can lead to ice buildup. Accidents happen when ice is on the sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots, and the owners or residents of those buildings might be held liable.

Reasonable Expectations

One of the things to note in this situation is whether or not the expectations are reasonable. For example, a large snowstorm that hits overnight and deposits 12 inches of snow won’t be cleared up quickly. This means that the sidewalk may be left snowy and icy for around half a day or so, depending on whether or not the residence or business uses a snow blower or has to shovel by hand. In these types of situations, should a slip and fall occur, usually no one is found liable except for Mother Nature. The same is true is someone hurts themselves outside on your property while it’s actively snowing.

Causes of the Accident

On the other hand, you can be found liable for the injuries sustained by someone if your building or home hasn’t been properly kept up. A downspout that causes water to flow out onto the walkway or driveway, which then freezes into ice, is problematic. Since you didn’t fix the downspout before the weather turned, you could be found liable for any medical bills and lost wages incurred should someone get hurt on your property due to that downspout.

Public Spaces Might Be Your Responsibility

In general, spaces that belong to the public, like the sidewalk, aren’t necessarily your responsibility. However, if you don’t adhere to your city or HOA’s guidelines, or your lack of home maintenance leads to an accident, like the one described above, then you could be found liable for any incident that occurs on the public property in front of, behind, or to the side of your home or building. For these reasons, you need to ensure that you obey the laws and prevent any potential issues before they happen.

It All Comes Down to Liability

The key word here is liability. If you can’t, in good conscience, be held liable for anything, such as someone who slips and falls on your sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm, then you won’t have to worry. An accident only becomes something that you could be help liable for if you didn’t follow the laws or are found to be the main cause of the incident. In cases like these, you’ll need to file a claim with your homeowners insurance or business insurance and go from there.


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