Should I Clear My Snowy Sidewalk? Attorney Advises
Posted on January 18th, 2019 by Zane Cagle
An attorney from The Cagle Law Firm was quoted in The St. Louis Post Dispatch discussing the complications of slip and fall accidents regarding snow and ice. As January snow and ice continue to fall, a property owner must decide whether or not to shovel and clear their walks and drives. Shoveling snow can be a great winter workout burning almost 400 calories depending on the size of the walk or drive; however, one should be certain they are physically capable of the workout. Shoveling too strenuously can cause a heart attack or back injury as the cold constricts the blood vessels and shoveling spikes your heart rate.
If you are physically able to shovel, are you required to as a homeowner? Most municipalities do require homeowners to clear walkways. According to laws in St. Louis, homeowners are expected to start clearing as soon as the snow falls. Neither Missouri nor Illinois state laws specifically state that homeowners must clear their drives, but common law suggests differently. A homeowner cannot disregard neighbors’ safety and fail to clear their walkways that pose a danger. While police officers do not make a steady practice of walking the streets and handing out tickets to homeowners that fail to shovel their walks, you could face serious liability issues if someone falls on your property. Serious back injuries, traumatic brain trauma, and fatalities can occur when a person slips and falls and lands on the pavement.
When determining whether or not to shovel your walk, you must consider the weather conditions. A person has a duty to clear and maintain a safe walkway to their home or business. Only one weather situation occurs where the snow shovel should be left in the garage, and that is when there is a layer of ice under the snow. Clearing the snow and exposing an icy walk can actually be more dangerous. The homeowner is liable for the walk’s altered condition. Lindsay K. Rakers, an attorney at The Cagle Law Firm, discussed a case in which a business owner was sued for the parking lot condition the day after the snowfall. Compared to the surrounding areas, the walkway was in a more dangerous condition than the surrounding area. According to Rakers, “A thorough investigation of the facts leading up to the fall is absolutely crucial in these fall cases. “ Slip and fall cases can be complicated. Of course, shoveling the snow and making the walkway safe is simply the neighborly thing to do. You want to make the walking conditions for yourself, visitors, and the mail carrier as safe as possible.
If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident resulting from the negligence of a home or business owner, seek medical treatment and contact a St. Louis attorney. Contacting an attorney immediately is important for a thorough investigation to occur. Unlike traffic accidents, police officers are not always called to the slip and fall site; therefore, an accident report is not always automatically generated. As the victim, it is important to be sure that an accident report is filed either by the business or the homeowner for future investigation. A personal injury attorney can assist you with this step. In addition, the attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm use investigators to determine all factors that led to the slip and fall, including safety code violations and environmental factors.
To determine if you have a personal injury or wrongful death claim due to a slip and fall, call Zane T. Cagle at (314) 276-1681 for your free consultation.