How Soon after it Snows do I need to Shovel?

How much time does someone have to shovel the sidewalk?  Property owners must keep their property in a reasonably safe condition.  Such includes keeping sidewalks, walkways, paths, steps, and stoops free from ice and snow.   Generally, a property owner can wait a reasonable time until after it stops snowing to clear a safe path from ice and snow.

How much time constitutes a “reasonable time” to wait until after the snowstorm before the premises has to be cleaned? Such depends on the circumstances.  A store which is open for business and expecting customers is expected to make the parking lot, walkways, and paths free of slippery ice and snow fairly quickly.  A homeowner who is not expecting guests may have a little more time to clear a path.  The amount of the snowfall and its nature, whether it is light and fluffy, or hard ice, as well as the time of day, will also be taken into consideration as to how mush time is reasonable.

In any event, we are usually talking about hours, not days.  Once the sun has risen, and the snow has stopped, a clear and safe path should be cleared as soon as possible.   Your local government may very well have a law on the books setting forth what they consider reasonable as a matter of law. 

For example, New York City Administrative Code Section 16-123 requires that the person in charge of any building or lot in the City of New York shall have begun to remove the snow or ice from the sidewalk and gutter before the expiration of four (4) hours after the snow ceases to fall (the time period of 9 pm to 7 am being excluded).  In the event that the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, then the strewing of ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar material will be an acceptable alternative, provided that as soon as the weather permits that the sidewalk is thoroughly cleaned.  Other local municipalities are likely to have similar regulations.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us.  If you have a ideas for future blog posts let me know. – Marc Miner, Esq.

Zalman & Schnurman is a New York law firm that concentrates in personal injury actions such as construction accidents, motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, premises liability, trip and falls, slip and falls, snow and ice cases, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, etc. Learn more at www.1800Lawline.com, or contact us at 1-800-LAWLINE, or 1-800-529-5463

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The information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not meant as legal advice or to cover all possible facts or factors. An attorney should be consulted to discuss specific facts and laws.

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