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Letter of the Law

January 20, 2006

PROPERTY OWNER'S LIABILITY FOR ICE AND SNOW ON SIDEWALKS

(Continued)





B. Conditions caused by land owner's conduct



A land owner may be held liable where ice is localized and where no general slippery conditions exist in the community, or where an icy condition is caused by the land owner's own conduct or neglect. As an example, on a relatively clear winter afternoon, Patricia, after having visited with Danielle, is walking down Danielle's steps, and without warning, encounters a sheet of ice, causing her to fall and to sustain a fractured shoulder. The evidence shows that, although the sidewalks throughout the general area were clear, and while it had not rained or snowed for days prior to the incident, Danielle had permitted her gutter above the steps to overflow and/or leak, thereby causing an unnatural accumulation of freezing water to exist upon the steps. The evidence further showed that Danielle had been aware of this condition and had failed to correct the same prior to the incident. Danielle may be held liable for Patricia's injury. Similar situations may relate to defective hydrant's, water pipes, drains, or other unnatural accumulations of water upon walkways and pedestrian thoroughfares.



C. Violation of City Ordinance



Under certain circumstances, municipal ordinances may require duties upon land owners, not otherwise existing under the law. For instance, the Ordinances of the City of Meadville specifically require property owners within the city, whether occupied or unoccupied, to keep sidewalks abutting public streets free from snow and ice in accordance with specific time limitations depending upon where the sidewalks are situate. In certain areas snow and ice is required to be removed from sidewalks within one business hour after the cessation of the fall of snow, sleet or freezing rain, or by 9:00 the next business day, whichever is shorter. In other areas snow, sleet and freezing rain is required to be removed within the same day, or within the first five hours of daylight thereafter. Moreover, by separate ordinance, land owners are precluded from allowing water from roofs, eaves, or spouting to run over, drip or flow upon any city sidewalks.

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