Local ordinances across Minnesota require property owners to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks to prevent slips and falls.
In St. Paul, snow and ice must be removed within 24 hours (St. Paul City Ordinance Chapters 113-114). In Minneapolis, there are different requirements for single-family homes/duplexes and commercial properties like apartments and businesses. Houses and duplexes must be cleared within 24 hours. However, commercial buildings must be cleared within four daytime hours (starting at 8 a.m.). Many other cities in the Twin Cities metro area have similar requirements.
What happens if you don’t shovel snow as required?
As a homeowner or renter, you may be aware that there can be consequences for failing to remove snow or ice from your sidewalks within the required time-frame. Depending on the city, public works employees may clear the sidewalk for you and invoice you for the work. In certain cases, you may even receive a citation from the city for failure to clear your sidewalk. However, the cost of a citation or shoveling bill is very minor in comparison to the cost of liability if someone is injured because of a snow or ice accumulation on your sidewalk.
People are generally aware that businesses have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for customers, but especially in winter, homeowners and renters have a similar duty. Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies generally cover accidents like this.
What are the dangers of a sidewalk that’s not shoveled of snow and ice?
These local laws are intended to protect the public from slipping and falling in the first place, but they can also help an injured person recover compensation if an injury does occur.
The most dangerous sidewalk conditions tend to build up over the winter as the responsible party fails to remove snow. That snow then thaws and refreezes throughout the winter and results in an accumulation of ice. This is exactly the kind of condition the shoveling ordinances seek to prevent. If you have been injured as the result of a fall on a sidewalk, whether it is outside of a business, apartment building, or private home, there is a good chance that the property owner or tenant was negligent. They therefore may be liable for your injuries.
Is it negligent to not shovel the sidewalk?
The legal concept of negligence requires that a person breach a duty of care to another person. Furthermore, this breach of duty must cause an injury. When it comes to sidewalk shoveling, the local laws requiring that snow and ice be removed legally create a duty. Non-compliance with the shoveling ordinances is a breach of a legal duty. This is often referred to in the law as “negligence per se.” This means that you will be found to be negligent as a result of breaking the law or city ordinance.
Unfortunately, even though the law may seem cut-and-dry, the responsible insurance company is likely to make recovering damages a long, drawn-out process. If your medical expenses are mounting and you are losing wages and missing work because of an injury, you don’t have the luxury of playing at the insurer’s speed. The experienced attorneys at Sand Law consistently achieve great results for clients by cutting through the red tape and delay tactics commonly employed by insurance companies.
Some things to keep in mind following a slip and fall accident include the importance of acting promptly and documenting the situation. Dangerous sidewalk conditions are liable to change quickly with the weather. Or they can be corrected by the responsible party after an accident. Keeping notes about the accident, including names of witnesses, the exact location, the time of day, weather conditions at the time, and medical treatment will help establish credibility and prove the claim in the future.
Contact an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney
Sand Law’s personal injury attorneys can help recover damages for your injury. If you have slipped and fell on an icy sidewalk, don’t feel that you are helpless or need to deal with the problem alone. Contact one of our premises liability attorneys today for a free consultation to find out how we can help. You can contact us online or call us at 651-291-7263.