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Do homeowners need to shovel their sidewalks?

Winter weather brings plenty of snow to Utah, making any kind of travel difficult. It can be particularly annoying for pedestrians who are walking in residential neighborhoods where their neighbors and local businesses didn’t shovel their sidewalks.

When this happens, it can put pedestrians at a greater risk for a slip-and-fall injury. Who is responsible for the snow on the public sidewalks that run through a property?

City ordinance for snow removal

In Salt Lake City, an ordinance requires property owners to remove snow and ice from the whole sidewalk adjacent to their property within 24 hours after precipitation ends. This applies to residents and businesses alike.

Property owners must clear the whole width of the sidewalk, not just a “wide enough” path or one that is the width of a snow blower. Salt Lake City will ticket anyone who violates the ordinance, with fines depending on the length of the property along the street.

Comparative negligence

An injured person can seek recovery in Utah based on comparative negligence. This means that an injured person can recover damages even if they contributed to the injury, but it would only be the difference between the property owner’s fault and the injured person.

For instance, if the court determines the injured person was 20 percent at fault and a property owner was 80 percent at fault, the injured party could recover up to 80 percent of the damages. If the fall occurred over 24 hours after snowfall and a property owner did not follow ordinance guidelines for snow removal, it is possible the injured person would be able to recover 100 percent of the damages because the property owner violating the ordinance.

While comparative negligence can seem daunting in many slip-and-fall cases, if someone didn’t clear the snow on a sidewalk running through their property in time, pedestrians did nothing wrong by walking on a public sidewalk. Winter survival requires all of our cooperation and following city ordinances designed to keep us safe.

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