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November 21st, 2012

Liability in a Philadelphia Snow & Ice Fall Accident

Winter is almost here and we are projected to have a severe winter, full of snow. This is great for kids on a snow day, but it also means there will be an increase in the number of slip and fall accidents which occur in the area. In most snow and ice slip and fall accidents, people do not suffer serious injury. However, for those that do, medical bills and time lost from work are a nightmare. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law can help a person injured in a snow and ice slip and fall accident case recover for their injuries. Read about our Philadelphia slip and fall lawyers.

Property owners and businesses are often held liable for snow and ice accumulations. Liability is often based on failing to properly shovel or salt a sidewalk or entryway. However, not every slip and fall case will result in liability. Under Pennsylvania snow and ice liability law, a property owner or store would not be liable for every snow/ice fall accident. Instead, there must be evidence of negligence.

There are three common scenarios where a property owner/business will be held liable for a snow or ice fall accident: failure to shovel/salt within a reasonable period of time, melt and refreeze situations, and property defects which contribute to excessive or unusual snow/ice accumulation. This article will discuss the first kind of situation: failure to shovel/salt within a reasonable period of time.

Snow/Ice Fall Accidents & Liability for Failure to Shovel/Salt within a Reasonable Period of Time

Pennsylvania courts require that there be evidence of “hills and ridges” of snow/ice in order to make a case against a property owner. The majority of cases where a property owner is held liable for a snow and ice accident involve failure to shovel snow or salt a sidewalk within a reasonable time frame, thus allowing hills and ridges to form. What is reasonable depends on several factors, such as:

  • the amount of snow,
  • temperatures,
  • location of property (busy city block versus vacant rural area), and
  • type of property (residential versus commercial).

Philadelphia City Sidewalk Snow Removal Law

Under local Philadelphia law,building owners or tenants are required to clear a path at least 3 feet wide on all sidewalks within 6 hours after the snow has stopped falling. Violations may result in fines of up to $300.

The relevant portion of Philadelphia Code 10-720 provides:

“(1) the owner, agent, and tenants of any building or premise shall clear a path of not less than 36″ in width on all sidewalks, including curb cuts, abutting the building or premises within 6 (six) hours after the snow has ceased to fall. The path shall be thoroughly cleared of snow and ice. Where the width of any pavement measured from the property line to the curb is less than 3 (three) feet, the path cleared may be only 12 inches in width. When the building in question is a multifamily dwelling the owner or his agent shall be responsible for compliance with the requirements of this section.”

Related Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Legal Articles:

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer

The law firm of Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan has helped many slip and fall and trip and fall accident victims. The firm offers a FREE, INITIAL consultation. Contact our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey slip and fall lawyers. Click To Call. Our lawyers can obtain special admission in other states, such as New York or Delaware, on a case by case basis.

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