With the winter months rapidly approaching and Indiana often facing difficult winters with ice and snow, it is important for property owners to understand the rules for snow removal and keeping their areas safe. Failure to clear snow in accordance with the law can leave a homeowner facing a premises liability case. When a person is walking on someone’s property and falls, any injury could be the responsibility of the homeowner. For those who must clear the property, it is important to understand the law. It is also important to a person who has suffered personal injury and is having problems because of it.
Clearing sidewalks and mailboxes of snow is the law
After snow or ice has fallen, the property owner must clear a 5-foot path on the entire property. The snow or ice cannot be pushed into the street. It must be put in the yard. Those who cannot clear the sidewalk themselves are legally required to hire a contractor or ask someone for help to clear it. The time constraints are critical. With snowfall that stops after 7 p.m., the sidewalk must be cleared before 9 a.m. the next day. If it stops after 9 a.m., the property owner has until after 7 p.m. to clear it.
Mailboxes must also be cleared so the mailperson is safe when making deliveries. If the mailbox is at the curb, there must be 15 feet of cleared space surrounding the mailbox. If it is on the stoop or the porch of the property, the walkway must be cleared for the safety of the mailperson.
Those injured on a snow-covered sidewalk have legal options
Falling after snowfall or because of ice can cause serious injuries. These might include head injuries, brain trauma, spinal cord damage, broken bones and more. The injuries could be so severe that they lead to long-term damage, paralysis and death. People who own the property are required by law to make sure it is safe after a snowfall. If it has not been done, the injured person can pursue a legal claim for medical costs, lost income and other expenses they have accrued. If there is a fatality, the family left behind can also file a case. Consulting with an experienced legal professional who understands premises liability claims after personal injury can provide guidance in how to file a case. Calling for information and help is the first step.