When Is Someone Else Liable for Slips and Falls on Snow and Ice?

Philadelphia sees its share of snow—on the average, around 20 inches a year. To deal with hazardous snowy and icy conditions, Philadelphia holds a high standard for business owners and residents to maintain safe property conditions.

In a civil cases based on premises liability law, property owners must have the chance to remedy hazardous conditions based on what a reasonable person would do. For example, if spilled liquid in a grocery store causes a slippery patch of floor, the court would evaluate how long it should take a reasonable person to discover the spill and wipe up the floor. This time may vary from case to case depending on the circumstances surrounding an accident where someone slips and falls because of the spill. If an unreasonable amount of time passed between the spilling liquid and wiping it up, an Allentown slip and fall lawyer could argue that negligence occurred.

City of Philadelphia Code on ice and snow removal

In contrast, Philadelphia sets an exact time limit that it deems reasonable for a person to remove ice and snow on their premises—six hours from when the snow stops falling, according to Phildadelphia Code 10-720. Specifically, the property owner must thoroughly clear the snow and ice, which includes its removal from sidewalks, driveways, and other areas. In addition, the owner must not pile the snow up in the street. Business owners and residents in violation of this code may face city fines ranging from $50 to $300 for each violation.

Implications in a civil case

Compared to city fines, defendants face much higher stakes in civil cases.
In one Bucks County case, a jury awarded $390,000 to a Philadelphia man who slipped and fell in an industrial park parking lot. The man brought a lawsuit that held a park owner liable for permitting rainwater to drain into the parking lot and failing to shovel, salt, or clear the snow and ice.


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