In winter, snow and ice cause many accidents for drivers and pedestrians. Therefore, it is necessary to clear snow from roads and sidewalks to avoid slip-and-fall and other vehicle accidents. What is the legislation to respect in terms of snow removal? Can victims sue private organizations or municipalities for not removing snow and ice from roads? Do they have these obligations? What does the law say about snow removal and de-icing? Let’s find out!
Can You Sue A Private Company or Municipality For Failure to Remove Snow or Ice From Roads?
Snow removal consists of clearing snow and ice on the roads and sidewalks. Everything must be done up to the edge of the sidewalk and without obstructing the manholes so as not to prevent the flow of water.
The maintenance of the public road is a municipal domain: the technical teams of the town hall must ensure that it is in good condition and that the accesses and passages in the streets are clear. In the absence of a specific municipal decree, it is, therefore, the municipal agents who are responsible for intervening and clearing the roads and sidewalks of snow by clearing or sprinkling salt to avoid ice.
If a municipal by-law on snow removal is in effect, it may also provide a list of means to be implemented to ensure the obligation of snow and ice removal. For example, in certain municipalities very affected by snow, the mayor can install anti-snow bars on the roofs of buildings or remove icicles from high up that could fall and cause accidents.
Snow removal and de-icing obligations are not the same when it comes to a public thoroughfare or a private road an organization or individual owns.
Actions Against Municipality
As far as public roads are concerned, it is, in principle, up to the municipality to take care of the maintenance of the roads and sidewalks. It is the responsibility of the municipal police to ensure the safety and convenience of passage on streets, quays, squares, and public thoroughfares. Therefore, in an accident, the victim can hold the municipality liable.
In the presence of a municipal by-law on snow removal, the mayor can order local residents to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their homes in the event of snowfall and remove any patches of ice. If no pavement is present, this obligation also concerns the pedestrian shoulder of the road. The mayor assesses whether this measure is necessary according to the means available to the city.
Therefore, even if you’ve sustained injuries in a no-contact accident on a snowy or icy road, you still have the right to hold the responsible entities liable. The right steps would be to talk to a personal injury attorney who will determine if the snow removal from that specific road was the municipality’s responsibility or a private organization’s obligation.
Regarding sidewalks, it is essential to inquire with the municipality’s town hall where your activity is located to know who is obligated regarding snow removal.
Actions Against Private Companies And Individuals
Certain sidewalks are considered the responsibility of adjacent or “adjoining” property owners in many states. An owner may be liable when the owner knows or should have known about dangerous sidewalk conditions, fails to correct the hazard, and an injury results.
Some states’ Administrative Codes impose certain obligations on property owners regarding removing snow and ice from the roads and sidewalks. Even adjacent property owners doing snow removal can be held liable if their efforts increase the risk of danger or otherwise worsen the condition.
Thus, the victim can file a lawsuit against a private organization responsible for clearing the snow and ice.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Near You!
Accident cases involving municipalities and private organizations are often complex. The victims have to come up with enough evidence, and even if it’s the municipality’s responsibility to remove the snow, the law may protect them depending on the severity of the weather. Therefore, accompanying yourself with a personal injury attorney from the beginning ensures you don’t miss out on anything and get compensated for your damage.
If you’re injured in a winter accident in Colorado, contact The Bourassa Law Group, and accompany yourself with an expert personal injury attorney experienced in dealing with such cases. We have been helping victims of such accidents for years and understand what goes into proving the negligence of municipalities and private entities causing accidents.
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