By Attorneys Charles P. Reed and Dorothy J. Diaz-Hennessey of Loughlin FitzGerald, P.C.
As Northeasterners, Connecticut residents don’t fear a little snow. You probably know to plan ahead for the inevitable snow and ice storms. With each winter storm comes the potential for a person to slip and fall on ice or snow outside your home. So what is your responsibility as a homeowner?
Driveways, entry walks and steps should be cleared of snow and ice within a reasonable time after a winter storm. But who is responsible for the sidewalks outside your home? Generally, the municipality has the duty to maintain public sidewalks. However, there are two exceptions to the general rule: 1) where a statute or ordinance shifts the duty to the abutting landowner or 2) where the abutting landowner acted in a way to create an unsafe condition of the public sidewalk.
In those municipalities where the duty shifts to the abutting landowner, the abutting landowner is to use reasonable care to keep the sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition from snow and ice. So, what does that mean? Landowners are responsible to clear snow and ice after it has been present for a sufficient length of time. Therefore, it is best to begin shoveling immediately after the storm has ended or in the hours immediately following to prevent liability if someone slips and falls.
For example, Wallingford, North Haven, Hamden, Cheshire, and Meriden have adopted the statute or have an ordinance which shifts the duty to the abutting landowner. Therefore, if you live in one of those towns, you are liable to any person injured caused by the presence of ice or snow on the public sidewalk.
In order to determine the extent of your obligations to remove snow and ice from an abutting public sidewalk, a review of the local town or city ordinances is necessary. To determine your obligations and to discuss procedures that you can implement to minimize liability from accidents caused by snow and ice conditions, we strongly suggest that you contact a local personal injury attorney.
Tips to Prevent Slips and Falls on Your Property
What to Do After A Slip and Fall
Just as it is possible for someone to slip and fall outside your home, it is also possible for you to slip and fall and injure yourself. You probably know the feeling. You’re walking outside and step on a patch of ice. You feel your feet slide, so you begin to panic. You put your arms out to regain your balance and hopefully avoid a fall. But what happens if you do fall?
After you slip and fall on ice, you may feel embarrassed. You may want to brush it off and pretend you’re okay, especially if other people saw you fall. But slip and falls can be serious. It’s okay to get help. If you fall on ice, it’s important to do the following:
Tips to Avoid Slip and Falls
Under Connecticut law, the landowner or homeowner may have liability, but we also will look at what the pedestrian did that may have caused him or her to fall. Therefore, you must exercise a greater degree of caution while walking outside in the winter. Here are some tips to avoid a fall:
Hire a Skilled, Local, Personal Injury Attorney to Help You With Your Claim
In the days after an accident, we strongly suggest that you contact a local personal injury attorney to represent you. A qualified attorney can protect your interests, handle the insurance adjusters, answer your questions, and help you get the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. You never want to give a statement to the wrongdoer’s insurance company without the benefit of an attorney.
Personal injury attorneys like us work on what’s called a “contingency” basis, meaning we are paid a percentage of whatever you receive if and when you win your case, plus any costs we advanced while prosecuting your case. This means you owe nothing up front or along the way. A local attorney is particularly helpful, making appointments and meetings quicker and easier.
If you are involved in an accident, we know there are many options out there. We here at Loughlin FitzGerald—a firm with deep Wallingford roots—would be honored if you considered us. Please feel free to call us—Attorney Charles Reed, a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated personal injury attorney with nearly 30 years of experience, or his colleague Attorney Dorothy Diaz-Hennessey—at 203-265-2035 to discuss your case.