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When are New Jersey Property Owners Required to Remove Snow and Ice?

Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Oct 30, 2019  in Personal Injury News

blue-shovel-snowIf you slip and fall on snow or ice on someone else’s property, the owner may be liable for your damages. New Jersey requires property owners to take reasonable steps to keep their premises safe for visitors, which can include removing ice and snow that have accumulated.

If you were injured in this type of accident, you can contact Lynch Law Firm’s New Jersey slip and fall attorneys for a free consultation. These are complex situations, and our attorneys have in-depth knowledge of New Jersey laws and the obligations placed on property owners.

What do Property Owners Need to do About Ice and Snow on the Premises?

There are several things you need to know about property owners’ obligations with ice and snow on their property:

  • Residential and commercial property owners in New Jersey have different legal obligations for dealing with snow or ice accumulation.
  • Every municipality in New Jersey has the right to establish its own ordinances about the duties of property owners for dealing with snow and ice accumulation.
  • Municipalities have established time limits for removing ice and snow and some may assess fines for violating local ordinances.
  • There are also regulations on how wide of a path property owners must clear.
  • While municipalities have the authority to enforce these rules, they rarely do. Property owners are often given warnings.
  • In a condominium or residential community with a homeowner’s association, bylaws should outline the duty of the association for maintaining sidewalks and common areas in safe condition.  

If you can prove a violation of a local ordinance and link that to your accident and the injury you suffered, you may have a valid claim for compensation. While cases against homeowners may be very difficult to prove, cases against commercial businesses may be easier to validate.

When do Commercial Property Owners Need to Remove Snow or Ice?

Commercial property owners must take the same kind of action a reasonably prudent person would take to correct the dangerous condition, repair or remove it or take other action to reduce the danger to pedestrians (such as giving a warning).

Commercial property owners need to determine if the condition of the sidewalk poses an unreasonable risk of harm to pedestrians. If the answer to that question is yes, action needs to be taken in a reasonable amount of time to ensure safety. They may be required to conduct routine inspections to discover dangerous accumulations of snow or ice.

Each city has different rules for business owners on dealing with snow. For example, in Jersey City, snow must be removed from the property within eight hours of it falling, or eight hours after sunrise if it snowed overnight. In Haledon, residents must remove snow within 24 hours of a snowstorm ending. Fire hydrants must also be cleared of snow.  

Some cities and boroughs require the government to remove snow from downtown streets and specific areas of the city where there is insufficient space to store snow.

When do Residential Property Owners Need to Remove Snow or Ice

Residential property owners do not owe a duty to the public to repair a sidewalk that is in a state of disrepair due to the accumulation of rain, snow or frost. However, if the property owner tries to remove the ice or snow and is negligent in doing so, causing the sidewalk to be more dangerous than before, he or she could be held liable for accidents that occur.

Local ordinances may require property owners to clear sidewalks. For instance, in Summit, an ordinance requires residents to clear sidewalks by at least two feet for single-family or two-family residential lots. In Woodbridge, property owners are required to shovel a three-foot-wide path.

In Morristown, if the property owner does not shovel the snow in front of their property, the public works department will do it. However, the cost of this work is sent to the city tax assessor, and a lien is placed on the property to be collected as a tax.

The driveway and walkway that leads to the owner’s home is their responsibility. If someone is invited to the home and slips and falls in this area, the homeowner may bear liability for damages.

Can I Report Someone for Failing to Shovel Snow?

This may be possible, as the local police or public works department may issue snow removal tickets. However, enforcement of this varies by town.

Proving a Property Owner’s Negligence

There are several factors your attorney may need to consider about whether a property owner may be liable for your slip and fall injury caused by snow or ice, including whether:

  • The property owner had a legal duty to remove the ice or snow or warn about the risk of snow and ice on the sidewalk.
  • The property owner knew about the dangerous condition and failed to remove it.
  • The property owner should have known about the dangerous condition on the property because it would have been discovered by a reasonably prudent person.

If you have a case, our attorneys can investigate to determine how long the snow or ice was on the property and what the property owner’s legal responsibility was.

Contact a Lawyer for Help with Your Slip and Fall Claim

If you slipped and fell on snow or ice and believe that your injuries were caused by negligence, it is important that you speak with an experienced attorney.

If we find you have a case, our trusted lawyers at Lynch Law Firm can investigate the situation, gather evidence, communicate with insurance companies, and guide you through every other step in the legal process.

Our lawyers charge no upfront fees and are only paid if your claim is successful. We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim and your legal options.

Call Lynch Law Firm today at (800) 518-0508 .

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