Danger In Winter Wonderland

Winter brings us joyous holidays, crystalline beauty on the trees and a new year. It also brings ice and snow on roads and sidewalks. While we gaze in wonder at trees turned refulgent as diamonds, our feet may slip out from under us and land us on our posteriors. Even a warm winter day with an elusive hint of spring can prove treacherous, as melted snow and ice re-solidifies overnight, creating unexpected patches of slick sidewalk.

Ice is arguably worse than snow – particularly “black ice” – which mimics a surface merely darkened by innocuous moisture or stains. And ironically, a shoveled sidewalk or mounds of snow by steps may be the source of the daytime melting water that refreezes through frigid winter nights.

The law normally does not require homeowners to clean the sidewalks in front of their private residences. (Although this can be mandated by local ordinance.) Homeowners typically are not responsible for those who slip and fall on uncleaned sidewalks adjacent to their homes. Again, it is ironic that a homeowner who does
clean off his sidewalk, but who inadvertently and with the best intention creates a more hazardous situation can be found liable, should someone slip and fall on the partially cleaned area.

Commercial property owners, in contrast, must take reasonable steps to keep their entranceways and sidewalks clear of potential hazards. Complications can arise in the “residential” vs. “commercial” classification, as well as in whether an owner had a reasonable opportunity to clear off a sidewalk in the event of a sudden snowfall or ice storm.

For further information on wonderful winter season hazards, contact Lewis for a free consultation, 609-572-7338 or lapril@cooperlevenson.com

Date Published: February 12, 2018

Written by: Lewis April

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