The Law Firm of Leisawitz Heller

Icy sidewalks may be a dangerous property condition

It's winter in Pennsylvania, and that means snowfall is likely from now until springtime. Although snow can be fun for skiers and sledders, it can also be dangerous to driving or traveling on foot. State and local governments often handle the clearing of snow from public roads, but property owners may be responsible for removing snow from public sidewalks on their property.

In the code of ordinances for the city of Reading, there is a provision dealing with private parties' responsibilities for clearing snow from public sidewalks on their property. Specifically, anyone in charge or control of property with a sidewalk on it must clear at least 36 inches of snow from the sidewalk soon after it stops snowing. This requirement applies to owners and tenants of properties alike. And there are some parts of town where the snow must be cleared from the entire sidewalk.

What happens when a sidewalk is covered with ice or hard snow that cannot be removed? The city requires that abrasives such as sand or ashes be applied to the sidewalk so that it is reasonably safe to walk on.

Property owners and tenants will want to deal with icy sidewalks to avoid being hit with a citation from the city. They will also want to do this to avoid possible civil liability if another person slips and falls on an icy sidewalk. An icy sidewalk may be considered a dangerous property condition, a condition that a property owner or tenant may have a duty to remedy. Victims of slip-and-fall accidents on sidewalks may have legal options to recover for their injuries.

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