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Can I be fined or sued if I don't shovel my sidewalk?

Although there is no federal law regulating snow removal, individual states and cities may have their own laws regarding snow removal. In Salt Lake City, for example, according to ordinance 14.20.070, snow must be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours of a storm. This applies to both residents and business owners. If residents or business owners fail to remove the snow, they are subject to fines that start between $50-$100 (depending on the length of the sidewalk) and increase by $25-$50 each day that the snow remains unshoveled. According to the code residents must:

  • Clear snow and ice from City sidewalks adjacent to your property within 24 hours after the end of the storm.
  • Make a minimum 42-inch wide path, or if the sidewalk is less than 42 inches wide, clear the full width.
  • Clear the full length of the sidewalk, including from corners and curb ramps.
  • Ice must be removed to bare pavement, or made as level as possible and treated with ice melt, sand or similar material.
  • Do not move snow into the street or onto other sidewalks.

Residents and business owners are also at risk of being sued if someone is injured as a result of unshoveled or unsafe conditions on sidewalks on their property. If the injured party can prove liability they can file a claim. Even if the snow is removed and a thin layer of ice is left behind, residents can be sued for creating a new danger and failing to take measures to reduce the danger. Commercial property owners have an even higher duty and greater potential liability. They have to demonstrate "reasonable care" when clearing snow and attending to sidewalks and other walkways to their business to ensure the safety of the public. If an injured party can prove negligence and failure to provide "reasonable care," they can file a claim against the business owner to receive compensation for their injuries.

The bottom line is that it is important to be familiar with the individual ordinances of your particular city or town and then following those regulations. This will prevent people from being injured on your property and will prevent you from steep fines and possible litigation.

If you have questions about what you need to do to maintain your business or residence during the winter months or if you have been injured on someone else's property due to lack of snow and ice removal, contact our office for a FREE consultation. 

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