Our Chicago attorneys make it our priority to stay on top of important issues regarding the law and safety of our community and to educate the public on legal issues relevant to them in their daily lives. Recently, Fox News reached out to us to tackle questions related to snow and ice removal related to potential premises liability litigation.
Snowy and bitter cold winters come as no surprise to Chicagoans. Our city is notorious for its harsh winters and large accumulation of snow. With so much snow, residents have a duty to shovel their driveways and sidewalks to keep the snow cleared. What many residents may not consider though, are the legal considerations regarding snow removal and shoveling.
In the report featuring attorney Marvet Sweis from our office, MyFoxChicago discussed how residents risk getting a fine or getting sued for failing to remove snow and ice from their premises in a timely manner. Many people think not shoveling their sidewalks will save them from liability if someone slips and falls in front of their home. However, Ms. Sweis relayed that isn’t the case due in part to Illinois law. She explained how the law protects residents when they shovel their driveway and sidewalk because the law recognizes that people want to be able to get in and out of their own property. Instead, homeowners can be sued only where negligent.
The Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act explains that the law encourages owners to clean the sidewalks abutting their residences. That is why lawmakers have found it undesirable for people to be found liable for legal damages when they have made efforts to remove snow and ice. The exception is where there is clear wrongdoing. In these instances there must be will and wanton misconduct. Ms. Sweis described this colloquially as knowing there is a patch of ice and covering it with snow as a joke so that a passerby will not notice it and fall. Except for such cases, residents generally have immunity from negligence.
It is relieving for many to be informed about this area of the law because liability is something many people fear and wish to avoid. It is understandable that it is difficult to make walkways completely safe during such brutal winter conditions, and that consistent snow falls and subsequent melt keep slippery conditions coming back no matter how frequently we shovel and salt our property. That is why instead of holding people to such a high standard of care, the law understands that people are giving snow removal their best efforts and wishes to encourage them to do so.
We are proud that the Chicago community turns to our lawyers for guidance on personal injury law and safety issues, and in turn we are proud to serve our community and represent its citizens. If you have questions about personal injury law or a potential case, please feel free to call us for free consultation. We would be happy to discuss your legal situation with you.