December 17, 2018
In Indiana, we don’t just get snow — we get blizzards. As the Crossroads of America gets buried under blankets of ice and snow, the sidewalks around those crossroads get icy and dangerous, too. It’s no wonder we see a spike in accidents, injuries, and slip and fall cases during these winter months as residents and workers in Indianapolis brave the cold, sometimes slipping and falling because of others’ negligence.
Property Owners’ Responsibility for Clearing Snow
According to the city of Indianapolis, if there are any sidewalks adjacent to your property, you’re responsible for clearing them. Simple, right?
However, in subdivisions and on public walkways, other laws overrule this simple precedent. On Indianapolis-owned sidewalks, the city can’t be held responsible for injuries that occur due to ice and snow accumulation. Subdivisions may hold families responsible for clearing their own sidewalk, but not always.
State-Mandated Snow Removal Time Frame
Indianapolis allows property owners — including businesses as well as single-family homes — to have a window of time to clear snow, inside of which they may not be found liable for slip and fall injuries:
- Snow that stops falling after 7 p.m. must be cleared by 9 a.m.
- Snow that stops falling after 9 a.m. must be cleared by 7 p.m.
This means that you have windows of time in which to clear accumulated snow that is known legally as “reasonable.” Failing to remove slip and fall hazards such as ice and snow within a reasonable time frame means you may be liable for someone’s injuries on your property.
Snow Removal in Privately Maintained Neighborhoods
Suburban residents across Indiana may enjoy the benefits of homeownership without a few tedious tasks that concern municipal residents. For example, some subdivisions require or offer homeowners’ membership in a neighborhood association that will take care of snow removal and other chores for a fee.
Members of homeowners’ associations such as these may not be directly or completely liable for failing to clear snow on time, depending on the terms of the contract they sign with the association.
If the snow removal service fails to clear the sidewalks within a reasonable amount of time and it’s their sole responsibility to do so, injured parties may be redirected to this company for liability issues.
However, if the homeowners’ association has agreed with the snow removers that homeowners should take ultimate responsibility for maintaining their sidewalks during inclement weather, you may have to keep an eye on the clock and start shoveling before reasonable time runs out.
Premises Liability in Subdivisions
Typically, subdivisions are treated as collections of individual properties separated by publically maintained roads, meaning each homeowner is responsible exclusively for his or her own property. Only when homeowners willingly join associations or other legally binding contracts to maintain their property on the owner’s behalf do liability laws shift responsibility to another party.
Knowing the ins and outs of city codes, homeowners’ insurance companies, and perhaps even neighborhood liability laws is key to filing a successful slip and fall case in any neighborhood. That’s why we recommend working with an experienced Indiana personal injury attorney who can help guide you through the process.
Personal Injury Attorneys On Your Side
When you’re injured on an icy sidewalk and owe costly medical bills, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour on the phone with a frustrating insurance agent who wants to dispute your claim. That’s why Hensley Legal Group’s qualified lawyers are here: to take your mind off the case so you can get back on your feet.
Call us or contact us online today to start a conversation with one of our attorneys for free. There’s no obligation, and we won’t be paid until you are.