Homeowners have an obligation to remove snow and to make their pathways and sidewalks reasonably safe within a reasonable period of time.
What does that mean? The answer is that it means what the jury thinks it means.
However, there are some general guidelines. Most municipalities have a rule that snow must be removed within twenty four hours of the end of the snow. On the other hand, if is a lengthy snowstorm, the question is whether or not a business would be obligated to go out in the middle of the snowstorm to try to keep their pathways clear. What it comes down to is reasonableness.
There’s also another aspect to snow maintenance called an unnatural accumulation. An unnatural accumulation is where, due to something having to do with the premises, snow and ice accumulate in a way that is unexpected and creates a hazard.
The most common situation is when there are downspouts sending water that then freezes onto a pedestrian walkway. This is common on homeowners’ driveways even though the driveway may be the only path to enter the home. Similarly, businesses, especially gas stations, may send water out to the parking lot and the water crosses a pathway that people have to take.
Whether it is a failure to maintain or unnatural accumulation, under both circumstances, it can lead to a successful lawsuit.
Every homeowner has a duty to keep public sidewalks in front of their homes clear. Some municipalities like Milwaukee have a rule that it be cleared within twenty four hours of the ending of the snow.
It’s an issue of fact as to how clear are you obliged to make it, whether you have to salt your walk, and so on.