Failing to Remove Snow From Walkways Puts Property Owners on Thin Ice

Monday February 28, 2011

In January 2011, Connecticut received the most snowfall of any January since record-keeping began in 1905. Amid repeated snow storms, it is difficult and tiring to keep up with ice and snow clearing on sidewalks and driveways. However, in general, all Connecticut property owners have a duty to remove snow and ice from their walkways, steps and parking areas once a storm ends.

Connecticut’s snow-clearing rule comes from the 1989 Connecticut Supreme Court case Kraus v. Newton. In that case, freezing rain had been falling for several hours when a meter reader came to a property where the stairs and railing were covered in ice, but sand had not been put down. The meter reader was injured when he slipped and fell on the steps, and he sued the property owner for negligence in a premises liability lawsuit.

Eventually the case went to the Connecticut Supreme Court, which set forth the ongoing storm doctrine. The court stated that, “in the absence of unusual circumstances, a property owner, in fulfilling the duty owed to invitees upon his property, to exercise reasonable diligence in removing dangerous accumulations of snow and ice, may await the end of a storm and a reasonable time before removing ice and snow from outside walks and steps.”

The unusual circumstances referenced were later partially defined by the Connecticut Appellate Court. It said that possible exceptions to the ongoing storm rule include:

  • A change in weather
  • The availability of other entrances and exits
  • A pre-existing accumulation of ice and snow made more dangerous by the occurring snowfall

This means that, unless an exception applies, property owners do not have to remove snow or ice while a storm is occurring. But, when the storm is over, property owners must remove ice and snow from their walkways and steps within a reasonable amount of time.

If you have fallen on snow or ice not properly removed from someone else’s property, contact an attorney experienced in slip and fall cases to discuss any legal claims you may have.

Source: Don’t Fall for Snow and Ice

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