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Who Is Liable for an Icy Sidewalk Slip and Fall?

Written by: Hagelgans and Veronis

What to Know About Slip and Fall Accidents on Icy Sidewalks

Pennsylvania winters can be brutally cold, bringing freezing rain, below-zero temperatures, and inches of snow during a single storm. These dangerous conditions can also cause hazards on sidewalks and walkways throughout the state. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident on an icy sidewalk, you might be entitled to compensation. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney to determine your legal options. 
At Hagelgans & Veronis, we represent individuals who have been seriously injured in slip and fall accidents throughout Central Pennsylvania. Our lawyers have secured over $300 million for our clients and will work with you to obtain the largest recovery possible. If you were injured in an icy sidewalk slip and fall, contact our office at +17172957009 to schedule a free consultation.

Who Can Be Held Responsible If I Slip and Fall on an Icy Sidewalk?

Many courts are reluctant to place liability on a property owner for a slip and fall related to an icy sidewalk. However, it is possible. Slip and fall accidents related to winter weather are commonplace. Snow and ice can cause dangerous, potentially deadly conditions. While property owners are generally required to clear any hazards from their property, an exception applies to dangers caused by a storm.

Property owners are not expected to clear snow or ice from their property during a storm. Most cities have passed ordinances specifying the amount of time a property owner has to remove snow on a walkway. Additionally, Pennsylvania has adopted a unique law, referred to as the “Hills and Ridges Rule,” regarding how much accumulation is considered hazardous.

What Is the Hills and Ridges Rule?

The Hills and Ridges Rule is a law that protects property owners from liability in situations where a slippery condition causes someone harm. As explained in Morin v. Traveler’s Rest Motel, Inc., the hills and ridges doctrine states that a property owner cannot be held liable for slippery conditions caused by ice and snow unless they have allowed the ice and snow to “unreasonably accumulate in ridges and elevations.”

To prove liability, you must show:

  • The accumulation of snow and ice on the sidewalks was in ridges and elevations of a nature that would “unreasonably obstruct travel” therefore causing a danger to pedestrians;
  • The property owner had actual or constructive notice of the condition; and
  • It was the dangerous accumulation of snow and ice that caused your injuries.

The doctrine applies to both public and private properties. However, while the hills and ridges rule is applied under many circumstances, a property owner must still abide by city ordinances regarding the removal of snow.

How Long Does a Property Owner Have to Remove Snow and Ice from a Sidewalk?

There is not an expectation that a property owner removes every flake of snow from their property as the snow is falling, but they must do their due diligence to prevent potential harm. Most cities have passed ordinances that require a property owner to remove snow or ice within a reasonable amount of time after a storm.

City ordinances regarding snow removal:

  • Lancaster: Property owners are required to remove snow within 5 hours of the end of the snow. If the storm ends overnight, a property owner has until 10:00 am to clear the sidewalk.
  • York: Snow and ice must be removed within 12 hours of the end of the precipitation.
  • Mount Joy: Snow and ice must be removed from sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time and not more than 24 hours after a snowfall or other winter storm.
  • Quarryville: Snow and ice must be removed within 24 hours of the end of the snowfall. If the snowfall ended between dusk and dawn, a path must be cleared by 10:00 am the following morning. 

To understand more about individual ordinances, you need to speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you understand who can be held liable and what your case may be worth.

Injured on an Icy Sidewalk? Contact Our Office.

If you or a loved one were injured on an icy sidewalk in Pennsylvania, contact our office at +17172957009 to schedule a free consultation. 

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