Can You Sue for Injuries After Slipping on Snowy Sidewalks in Philadelphia?
Growing up, the thought of a snow day and the chance to get out of school was on every child's and teacher’s mind. However, as adults, it doesn’t have the same meaning, especially when you need to get up and move once the storm passes. Unfortunately, not only do you not get a pass to just stay home, but you may have to venture into areas that haven’t been cleared yet, which could pose a significant risk. If you sustain injuries as a result of a slip-and-fall accident on the snowy sidewalks in Philadelphia, you might wonder who’s responsible and if you can take legal action.
Continue reading to learn more about your rights in the event this happens, including whether or not it is possible to file a lawsuit for injuries received.
Who Is for Snow and Ice Removal?
This question gets asked a lot, and the city of Philadelphia has rules and regulations in place to answer it. As far as maintenance and ensuring things like snowy sidewalks in Philadelphia are safe after a winter storm, that task falls on the property owners. The city didn’t stop there. They also provided a reasonable timeframe for property owners to complete the cleanup. However, it’s important to note that there are contingencies, especially when the snowstorm is severe. Essentially, property owners won’t be penalized in certain situations, which in a way puts the responsibility on you as well. We’ll get to that a bit further in the article.
What do the Rules and Regulations Say for Residential Property Snow Removal in Philadelphia?
The rules and regulations for snow removal regarding residential properties are fairly clear as far as how long residents have to complete the task. Once the storm passes, the clock starts, giving property owners six hours to clear the sidewalks in front of their houses, according to city regulations. For some, this might not seem like long enough, but it is the time frame provided. What happens if you don’t get the sidewalks cleared in that time? Unfortunately, you can get fined up to $300, and of course, you run the risk of someone falling on your property, which could cost even more. Another note worth mentioning is that the city determines when the end of the storm occurs, which starts the official six-hour clock.
When reading this, it’s important to understand that unless your lease says otherwise, if you live in an apartment building, the property manager is the party responsible for snow and ice cleanup. That doesn’t get all renters off the hook, though. If you live in a free-standing home and rent, more than likely you’re responsible for the cleanup and not your landlord.
What About Commercial Property Snow Removal in Philadelphia?
The six-hour time frame is the same for commercial properties as it is for those living in apartments. But again, you should check your lease for clarification because, unlike apartment dwellers, it’s highly likely the responsibility falls on you. Which makes sense after all. Beyond wanting to clear the space for your customers, you also want to make sure they’re safe, as it could hurt your brand if you disregard snow and ice removal, not to mention cost you money if someone slips and falls. On a side note, the city is in charge of clearing the sidewalks at its buildings, so if you’re headed to pay a utility bill or to court, those sidewalks are the city’s responsibility.
How Clear do the Snowy Sidewalks in Philadelphia Need to be?
When it’s cold outside, the last thing most of us want to do is hang out on the snowy sidewalks in Philadelphia. Which is why it’s good to know how clear your sidewalks need to be. Philadelphia regulations state that property owners need to make sure the sidewalks have a clear path that is at least 36 inches wide. There is an exception to this if the area between the curb and your property is less than 36 inches. However, even if this is the case, there still should be a path that’s at least 12 inches wide.
It’s also important to know, to help you avoid additional fines, that you can’t shovel the snow from your sidewalk into the street. You’re also not allowed to use your snowplough after the city has come through. The best option is to push the snow in the direction of your building or into a neutral zone.
Knowing all this, listening to the weather, and being prepared are essential. Putting down salt as soon as you notice the first flakes and throughout the snowfall may help with removal.
What Is the Reporting Method When Someone Doesn’t Shovel Their Sidewalk?
You can report snowy sidewalks in Philadelphia that haven't been cleared by calling 311 or using the Philly 311 app, which can be downloaded for free from Google Play or the App Store.
What If I Live in the Suburbs?
Each township has different regulations. These include the amount of time you have to clear the snow and the minimum width of the pathway. However, failing to clear sidewalks can result in fines for both landlords and tenants in the majority of areas. For more information, it’s a good idea to speak with your township directly.
What Does This Mean for Injuries That Result from Slipping on Snowy Sidewalks in Philadelphia?
Back to the question at hand. Now that you know who’s responsible and the timeframe they have to clear the sidewalk, it’s easier to understand your rights if you slip and fall. First, although the city-states that property owners have six hours to clear the sidewalks, they may gain some wiggle room due to the severity of some storms. In these instances, it’s crucial to use common sense and protective measures if you must be out.
Additionally, the state of Pennsylvania has a modified comparative negligence system, which means that if you are partially responsible for the accident, your compensation may be reduced or perhaps denied entirely.
It is possible that the outcome of any potential litigation could be affected if it is decided that you did not exercise reasonable care and contributed to the incidence of slipping and falling.
How Do I Know If I Have a Legitimate Claim in Philadelphia?
The only way to know for certain is to contact a personal injury attorney. But some factors lean one way or another. As mentioned, if it’s shown that you are at least somewhat responsible for the injury, it will be harder for you to get compensation from the property owner.
At the same time, those who own property are responsible for treating icy patches, even if they form after the snow and ice melt. This includes patches on sidewalks and parking lots. This is why they need to be vigilant with salt when the snow starts to fall. If you happen to slip and fall on one of those patches of melted and refrozen snow, you may have a viable claim.
It's also a good idea for property owners to ensure their property appropriately so that any risk of icy conditions on the sidewalks is minimized. For instance, proper grading is needed to ensure that water flows away from the sidewalk or parking lot.
Also, roofs that can drop melting snow and ice onto areas where people walk need to have clear drainage so that the water flows through the gutters and doesn’t pool on other services.
Documentation Is Crucial in Philadelphia
If you want to pursue a claim for personal injury, you must document everything in great detail. Take photographs of the snowy sidewalks in Philadelphia, the area around it, and any warning signs, or the absence of any, that may present themselves.
In the event of an injury, which has likely happened since you’ve read this article, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Additionally, keep track of anything you spend on medical assistance, including medicines or equipment you need to recover. Also, try to get witness statements if there are any, but be mindful that staff might not be willing to do so, and pushing them might only cause more trouble. However, get their names for future use if you decide to proceed with a legal claim. Finally, be sure to report what happened to the manager or owner of the property, if they’re available.
Talk with a Lawyer Who Specializes in Personal Injury About Your Case
While the laws seem pretty cut and dry, they're not that simple. There are a lot of complications involved in proving a slip-and-fall injury. This is one of the main reasons why consulting with a personal injury lawyer from the start is a good idea. This is especially true when the slip and fall injury happens due to snow and ice on the sidewalk. Additionally, when reaching out to a lawyer, you want to make sure they have experience in these types of cases. Because there are so many boxes to check, working with an experienced team is the best way for you to get the compensation you deserve. Plus, the legal team can help you understand the next steps in the case, provide a timeline, and answer any questions you have.
Can Mattiacci Law Help Me in Philadelphia?
Our team at Mattiacci Law has the experience you need to take on cases like this. They also take the time to listen to you and answer the questions you have. While you might just think you’re a number in situations like this, they truly care and want to provide you with the best representation, which is also why they don’t charge unless they win your case. Essentially, if you slip and fall on the snowy sidewalks of Philadelphia, they’re the team to call.
The Mattiacci Law team has over 15 years of experience working with personal injury cases, which also gives them insight into how the rules and regulations are carried out. This means they can provide you with scenarios to help you understand the process and possible outcomes so that you can make an informed decision to move forward or not. If you decide to move forward, they’ll update you along the way. You can also contact them with new information if your health condition changes or if you remember things you might have forgotten when you first met.
Knowing Your Rights is Crucial
No one wants to be injured, but with Philadelphia’s winter weather, there is always a chance that you might slip and fall. If you do, and you’re injured, it’s important to work with a reliable team to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get the answers you need.
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