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Legal Duty for Snow Removal on Sidewalks

Snow in Danville and Avon

We have had a lot of snow here in Indiana.  With the cold temperatures it makes it tough to keep your sidewalks clean.  At least here on the square of Danville, not everyone is keeping their sidewalks clean.  In fact some just plane can’t; because of the cold temperatures salt won’t melt the ice.  So unless you have an ice-pick and do lot of back breaking work, the sidewalks will stay covered.  So should your worry about being sued if someone slips on the city owned sidwalk? Or being fined by the city?  I believe that Hendricks County, more specifically Danville, has an ordinance requiring property owners to clear the sidewalks.  I say believe because I am not 100% sure.  I know as a lawyer I should look it up and cite you the ordinance.  However, as you will see it doesn’t matter.

In 2007, the Court of Appeals issued the opinion, Denison Parking, Inc. v. Davis, 861 NE 2d 1276, 120 (Ind. App. 2007).  The Court of Appeals stated a municipality, in this case Indianapolis,  cannot use an ordinance to impose on a property owner a duty to clear a sidewalk from ice and snow.  

So you may wonder, “can I be sued if someone slips and hurts themselves on a sidewalk I didn’t clear?”  Turns out the answer was addressed by the Court of appeals in 2002. In the case of Lawson v. Lafayette Home Hospital, Inc., 760 NE 2d 1126, 1129 (Ind. App. 2002), the Court of Appeals said:

It is well settled in Indiana that an owner or occupant of property abutting a public street or sidewalk has no duty to clear those streets and sidewalks of ice and snow. Hirschauer v. C & E Shoe Jobbers, Inc., 436 N.E.2d 107, 110-11 (Ind.Ct.App. 1982) (citations omitted). Additionally, municipal ordinances that require abutting owners or occupiers to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks do not, as a matter of law, create a duty under which an owner or occupier can be held liable to third party pedestrians. Carroll v. Jobe, 638 N.E.2d 467, 471 (Ind.Ct.App.1994),trans. denied; Hirschauer, 436 N.E.2d at 111 (citations omitted)…

Now don’t use this blog entry as an excuse to not clean off your sidewalk.  However, also, don’t break your back trying to remove an inch of ice because you are worried about a lawsuit or being fined.



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