Winter Ready-Sidewalk Snow Removal and Liability
The state of our sidewalks can be something area residents may take for granted in warmer months. The aftermath of a storm can build up quickly, making for dangerous walking conditions across the Twin Tiers and Finger Lakes region. So dangerous that one slip may be the difference between life or death for some pedestrians.
Jim Reed, an injury and Malpractice Attorney for Ziff Law Firm, has seen hundreds of slip and fall cases, some worse than others. Check out his blog here. Reed says "when somebody falls on snow or ice it can be really horrible. I have seen a lot of bad injuries over the years." Many of which he believes are easy to prevent if properly prepared.
It may be confusing when it comes down to whose responsibility it is to clear ice or snow, especially if you rent as opposed to own. Renters listen up!
Reed says " if the landlord is delegating that responsibility to you. you need to know your taking on that responsibility. First and foremost, Read your lease!” Don’t be afraid to ask several questions when it comes down to that lease and get everything in writing. Some landlords may handle yard work or removal processes, but some may not. Knowing early on will eliminate the guessing game and lessen the liability.
If you are a pedestrian that comes to slip or fall on untreated surfaces, document the place of injury through photos or videos and then consult your attorney. They will review your options and take you through the legal process if your case is eligible.
One local management company does make sure to take on this responsibility, and that is Capriotti Properties. They do prioritize certain individuals like handicapped or disabled tenants, but they do then move on to commuters, removing the rest of properties totals as the snow finally tapers.
Jim Capriotti, owner and manager of Capriotti Properties says "sometimes you're like a ping pong ball trying to go around to all the properties to get everyone out at the same time. So it is difficult, we do try to start early in the morning, but if it’s snowing heavy it doesn't make sense to start and have to back again."
The process can still be a challenge, especially depending on how much snow the area receives but in some cases having your own resources, supplies, and a little patience can help. Capriotti's crew, is fully stalked on pallets of salt, several snow blowers and riding tractors for this winter and is ready to combat whatever comes their way-but are you?
Reed reminds that "regardless of what the law says, it’s something that if you are a property owner it is an obligation you are taking on”. He says “The bottom line is it’s an obligation that comes with home ownership. Just do the right thing, whether you are legally liable for it or not-clear your sidewalks.”
Home owners and renters it's not too late to prepare! Take advantage of local removal resources and don't be afraid to bulk up on the necessities for this winter season!
A few local removal/equipment resources:
- The Yard Barber
- Elmore Enterprises
- John’s Equipment Rental
- Mac’s Excavation, Lawn Care, Snow Removal
- M.R. Dirt Inc
- Trowbridge Construction and Excavating Inc.
- Ferratella’s Landscaping
- Southern Finger Lakes Equipment
- Frankel’s Yard and Odd Jobs
- Ace Property Management
- Americas Southern Tier Tree Service
- Snow Solutions
- Premier Landscaping
- Check your local grocery/retail giants as they also supply salt, shovels and equipment!
Ways to properly remove sidewalk ice: Click here for more.
- Something to keep in mind, just adding salt to ice at first glance may help with the melting process, but overnight that melted ice has the potential to refreeze becoming just as dangerous as the first round of ice originally on the surface.
- It is recommended that fine gravel, sand or kitty litter is put down first on the icy surface to add some grip to the sidewalk.
- If you choose to melt the ice, then add salt on to the gravel or sand to melt.
- Be sure to check periodically and to repeat placing of salt to eliminate any refreezing.
- Chipping away at ice patches with small shovels is also a good tactic, to ensure surface stays slip free, lay gravel or sand and melt away remaining ice with salt.
Ways to properly remove snow from sidewalks: Click here for more.
- Whether snow blowing or shoveling you can start the process early on and check every hour or so to keep up with totaling, or you can wait till the end of the snowfall.
- Remember not to “overdo it” if opting to shovel, and to clear snow slowly or in stages.