Don’t Forget To Shovel And Salt, Or You Could Be Sued
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By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Remnants of Friday’s snow storms are still visible all throughout the city. But if you own a business or home, here’s a bit of advice — be sure to clear a walkway.
Philadelphia Code requires that homeowners and residents shovel a three-foot wide path within six hours of the end of a snow fall and they must keep the path free of ice. If you violate the rule, expect to pay up.
“The Philadelphia code authorizes police to ticket you for up to $300,” says Royce W. Smith, an attorney with Feldman Shephard who handles catastrophic injury cases. He says the ticket could be a minor issue. If someone gets hurt because of ice left in front of your property, you could get sued. What’s worse, depending on your victim, damages could be significant.
“You don’t know who is going to be attempting to navigate your sidewalk,” says Smith, “they could be elderly, they could be in a fragile condition and the slip and fall on your sidewalk could be the one that breaks the camel’s back.”
Smith notes that most landlords carry the duty to clear sidewalks, but sometimes pass it on to a tenant. So check your lease– if it’s unclear, Smith has this advice.
“Just clean it up that way no one gets hurt and no one gets sued,” he says.
Smith says says business owners have an even higher duty to pedestrians and customers.
“They need to shovel their side walk, salt their sidewalk and they need to regularly inspect it to make sure ice has not accumulated,” he says, noting that business owners should keep a shovel handy in case snow or ice forms.
As for the cost of a slip and fall case, it could add up.
“The [victim] could break their leg, they could break their arm, they could break their back,” he says, “they could incur medical bills…they could miss time from work– these can actually turn into very significant cases.”
If you see areas that have not been shoveled and look unsafe contact the streets department for help by dialing 3-1-1.
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