Winter Snow and Ice Slip and Fall Accidents

The rules are simple. If you own a property, you are responsible for removing snow and ice. If you don’t shovel your sidewalk and a visitor or a neighbor slips and falls, then you may find yourself responsible for that person’s injuries. The rules for snow and ice removal will depend on where you live. Milwaukee and other Wisconsin cities and town have their own rules for snow and ice removal.

Who Should Remove Snow and Ice?

The answer depends on the type of property that you own. For example, if the fall happens in or on a…

  • Privately owned home, then the homeowner is responsible for removing snow and ice. If a visitor is injured, the homeowner’s insurance policy will cover the cost of the damages. However, if the owner does not have insurance or if there are more medical bills than insurance coverage, the homeowner may be held personally responsible for those costs.
  • Rental home, then the tenant, property manager, or landlord may be responsible for removing snow and ice. If the home is a single family home, the tenant is usually responsible for clearing ice and snow. If the home is in an apartment complex, the property manager or landlord may be responsible for snow and ice removal. In some cases, the property owner is responsible for public areas, while the tenant is responsible for removing ice and snow closer to his home.
  • Retirement community, then the property manager is responsible for removal of ice and snow.
  • Business property, then the property owner or business manager is responsible for making sure that ice and snow are removed and that all walkways are safe for the public. If snow and ice cannot be cleared, warning signs should be posted.
  • Sidewalk, then the municipality or owner of the abutting property may be responsible for making sure that ice and snow are removed. Some towns and cities clear sidewalks as a public service. Other municipalities have ordinances that require sidewalks to be cleared by the closest property owner within a certain time period after a snowstorm.

It is important to know if the responsibility to remove snow and ice is yours and how to do it safely.

Ten Tips for Keeping Your Property Safe in the Winter Months

If you have the legal responsibility to remove snow and ice to prevent winter weather falls, then it is important to know the following tips:

  1. If you rent, check your lease to see who is responsible for snow removal.
  2. If you go out of town, make arrangements for another person to clear your sidewalks.
  3. Use winter weather salt to treat your sidewalks before a winter storm.
  4. Don’t wait for the storm to be over before you clear your sidewalks. Shovel and treat your walkways and sidewalks periodically.
  5. You are responsible for your property even if you are physically unable to clear your sidewalks. Hire assistance before the storm starts.
  6. Check your downspouts. Snow and ice can melt and drain out of gutters. If the water refreezes, it can cause icy patches.
  7. Remove icicles from your home. If you can’t do this immediately, block off the area with construction tape or warning cones.
  8. Place non-skid mats on your doorstep and inside your entryway. This will prevent visitors from slipping inside your home.
  9. Remove any potential tripping hazards before snow falls. It can be hard for a guest to see obstacles under the snow.
  10. Make sure sidewalks, walkways, and driveways are well lit.

Additionally, you should check with your city or town about the amount of time that you have to clear your sidewalk.

And You Should be Prepared for Someone Who Slips and Falls to Protect His Rights

A person who slips and falls on snow or ice that is falling from the sky may not be able to recover damages from a property owner. However, if the storm has stopped or if the ice is the result of an unnatural cause, then a person who is hurt may be able to recover damages that includes compensation for past and future medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering. You should be prepared for this and you should be prepared to help a person who has been hurt in this type of slip and fall accident recover the fair damages he deserves.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.