As the days get shorter and nights get colder, we will soon be seeing freezing weather along the East Coast. The transition periods from sunny days to freezing nights can be some of the most dangerous for pedestrians as snow melts to water during the day and re-freezes to slick ice overnight. Black ice can be difficult to see and even more difficult to avoid. Even carefully walking across a slick patch of icy sidewalk can cause a slip and fall, resulting in serious injuries.
Common Causes of Slip and Fall Injuries in the Fall and Winter
Slip and fall injuries can happen all year round. However, during the late fall, winter, and early spring, these falls often involve ice and snow around walkways and entrances. Some of the common winter-weather causes of slip and fall injuries include:
- Uncleared snow
- Ice from downspouts
- Ice from dripping hoses
- Ice from melting snow
- Snow and ice on stairs
- Narrow walkways blocked by snow
Most of us are extra vigilant when walking around icy or snowy conditions but even the most cautious walker can be put at risk of an injury when a property owner fails to make sure their property is safe for visitors. Generally, the property owner has a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. Each state and some municipalities have their own regulations regarding keeping sidewalks, parking lots, and business entrances cleared and accessible.
Washington D.C. Snow and Ice Liability
In Washington D.C., the responsibility of property owners is covered by D.C. Code § 9–601. In the first 8-hour period of daylight following a snow or ice weather event, the owner of a residential or commercial property that abuts a paved sidewalk is to remove a dangerous accumulation of snow from the entire sidewalk width up to 36 inches. If the snow or sleet cannot be removed without causing injury, the owner shall make the sidewalk reasonably safe for travel by covering the snow with a coating of sand, sawdust, or other proper substance.
Baltimore Property Owners and Snow Removal
Property owners and residents in Baltimore have similar requirements to remove snow and sleep from their sidewalks. All snow and ice on adjacent public sidewalks must be removed within 3 hours after the end of a snow or ice event. If the snow or ice event stops between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m., the snow must be removed before 11 a.m.
Philadelphia Snow Removal From Sidewalks
Under Philadelphia Code § 10-720, the owner, agent, and tenants of any building shall clear a path of not less than 36 inches width on all sidewalks abutting the building within 6 hours after the snow has ceased to fall. In a multifamily dwelling, the owner or agent shall be responsible. If the sidewalk is less than 36 inches wide, the path cleared may be only 12 inches.
Residents Unable to Clear the Snow
Residents who are elderly, disabled, or may be unable to clear a pathway to comply with local codes may be able to get help from the city. For example, in Baltimore, the City Department of Transportation has established an assistance program for those unable to physically remove snow and ice. Contact your local city department of transportation to find out about city services to assist with snow or ice removal.
Liability for Slip and Fall Injuries
After a slip and fall injury, the victim may require medical care and be unable to work. A personal injury claim can help the injury victim recover compensation to pay for their injuries and cover income for time away from work. The property owner may be sympathetic at first but try to blame you for the accident if you ask for them to pay your medical bills.
If you contact an experienced attorney, they will be able to file a personal injury claim to cover your losses. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.