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  #1  
Old 21 January 2007, 09:06 PM
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Judge Don't shovel your sidewalk

Comment: My neighbor refuses to shovel his sidewalk. He contends that a
policeman told him that if he shovels his sidewalk and someone slips and
falls he is responsible but if he does nothing he is not responsible.
Several other neighbors contend that they have heard this rumer/urban
legend but no one knows for sure. I think he is just lazy.
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  #2  
Old 21 January 2007, 09:13 PM
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Depends on his city ordinances. Most likely, he IS responsible for shoveling the part of city property (which a sidewalk is) that cuts through his property. Hence, he probably needs to shovel. Tell him to check the title to his house.

Incidentally, I have a hard time believing that a cop would be able to speak so authoritatively on this. If someone slips and falls on your property, it's not a crime, but it is, most definitely, a tort (or at least, a tort issue). People get these confused all the time, but they're very separate areas of law.
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  #3  
Old 21 January 2007, 09:21 PM
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I've heard this one before, though I don't know if it's true.

As far as hearing it from a cop, I have to say that, though I am fond of my friends in the police department, they are often among the guilty when it comes to disseminating ULs. Even legal ULs.

So to me, seeing the law in print is the final authority, not hearing it from a cop. Though I would never tell a cop that.
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  #4  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:19 PM
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Read This!

Where I live, it is a legal responsibility to remove snow from sidewalks or you may face imprisonment or fines (although I've never heard of anyone being convicted). From the Tacoma Municiple Code - Title 9:
Quote:
9.16.050 Removal of snow and ice.
It shall be the duty of every person having charge or control of any premises located within the City of Tacoma to remove or cause to be removed from the public walks along the side or in front of the premises all snow or ice which may have formed or been deposited therein within 24 hours after the same has fallen or been formed, and shall also cause such snow or ice to be removed from the gutter in front of such walk for a sufficient width to allow the water to run freely therein. (Ord. 6866 5; passed Oct. 2, 1918)

9.16.060 Violation Penalty.
Any person violating any of the provisions hereof shall be, upon conviction thereof, fined in any sum not exceeding $300.00 or imprisoned in the County Jail for a period of not exceeding 90 days, or both, in the discretion of the Court. (Ord. 10697; passed Jun. 17, 1931: Ord. 6866; passed Oct. 2, 1918)
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  #5  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrekkerScout View Post
Where I live, it is a legal responsibility to remove snow from sidewalks or you may face imprisonment or fines (although I've never heard of anyone being convicted).
Here, too:
Quote:
SECTION 11.35 REMOVAL OF SNOW AND ICE FROM SIDEWALKS

A. The owner, occupant or agent in charge of any land or building abutting a paved sidewalk in the City of Malden shall make said sidewalk safe and convenient for public use by removing any snow or ice accumulating thereon or by otherwise make the same safe by covering with sand or other suitable substance.

B. Removal of hazardous conditions shall be made within the first twenty four hours after such snow or ice accumulates on said sidewalk. Sidewalks shall be cleared to provide a minimum passage of thirty six inches in width. A minimum passage of thirty six inches in width shall also be cleared to the street. Handicapped access ramps shall be cleared to the full extent of the width and length of the main slope and side slopes.

C. Violation of this ordinance may be enforced in the manner provided under M.G.L. Chapter 40, Section 21D in accordance with the following schedule of fines:
First offense - $25.00
Second offense - $50.00
Third/subsequent offenses - $100.00

Each twenty four hour period during which a violation shall exist shall constitute a separate offense, for which a separate and additional fine may be imposed.
And people absolutely do get ticketed for it. However, the "thirty-six inches in width" thing is not strictly enforced in residential neighborhoods -- a snow-shovel-width is adequate.

Four Kitties
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  #6  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:31 PM
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Police

Yup - same evey place I've lived that had snow. And every case I've ever heard of with a suit involved someone who had not taken reasonable precautions to clear sidewalk/steps. If you shovel and toss ice melter, adn then someone slips, you're fairly safe. If you don't bother, chances are a judge or jury will hammer you for the negligence...

War 'If only I could meet a reasonable (wo)man' lok
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  #7  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:41 PM
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Yeah, I'll amend my comments above. It's still not a crime, but it could be a penal offense. Something low-level, violation-type.
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  #8  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amigone201 View Post
Yeah, I'll amend my comments above. It's still not a crime, but it could be a penal offense. Something low-level, violation-type.

I think you're looking for misdemeanor versus felony -or- civil versus criminal, but they are all still violation of the law... and thus have the relative penalties.
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  #9  
Old 21 January 2007, 10:55 PM
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Nope. Misdemeanors are crimes that you can go to jail for a up to a year for. Violations carry no jail time, and are one step below misdemeanors.
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  #10  
Old 21 January 2007, 11:02 PM
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Guess it depneds on the state penal code - as you see in the first specific refernece there can be up to 90 days jail time involved. I learned in TX and any jail time in possible penalty equated to a misdemenor versus "violation" (like parking ticket) - and then the length of that time and/or fine or other penalties, is what drew the line between mis and felony...

Warlok
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  #11  
Old 21 January 2007, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warlok5 View Post
Guess it depneds on the state penal code - as you see in the first specific refernece there can be up to 90 days jail time involved. I learned in TX and any jail time in possible penalty equated to a misdemenor versus "violation" (like parking ticket) - and then the length of that time and/or fine or other penalties, is what drew the line between mis and felony...

Warlok
I'm sorry, I'm not following this. Are you saying that any jail time at all available bumps it up from a violation to a misdemeanor?
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  #12  
Old 21 January 2007, 11:14 PM
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I think I lied again. It look like violations carry a maximum 15 day jail sentence.

http://wings.buffalo.edu/law/bclc/web/NewYork/ny1-2.htm
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  #13  
Old 21 January 2007, 11:14 PM
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Yup - since the jail time is directly relative to the offense... that happens to be what TX uses (or did when I was in college) to determine the relative levels. Fine only, or community service = violation. Fine and/or jail year = felony.

I know I'm being simplistic to a degree, but that's how I remembered the levels for exams...

Warlok
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  #14  
Old 22 January 2007, 07:57 AM
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The more important point - at least here in Germany, but I guess it's the same in the US - is civil liability. When you don't act upon your duty to keep the sidewalk safe, and someone slips and breaks a leg (or worse), you're most likely liable for torts.

Don Enrico
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  #15  
Old 22 January 2007, 12:47 PM
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What happens if you are away from home? Are you still obliged to clear the path?
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  #16  
Old 22 January 2007, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans Off View Post
What happens if you are away from home? Are you still obliged to clear the path?

It depends... If there was no reasonable expectation that it would snow or if you knew that your place would be visited, then maybe. But more than likely not, since you were not present to do anything. It depends on what the city expects of you. More than likley it just extends to something like "if your going to be gone more than a few days in the middle of winter, we expect that for general safety, you arrange for a neighbor or other party to clear the walkway for you"

But if you're out of town, you could easilly challenge a first time offense but the second time around, you may not get much sympathy.
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  #17  
Old 22 January 2007, 01:51 PM
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Around here the city will clear your sidewalks if you don't do it within 48 hours. The charge for this service appears on your property tax bill.

linky
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  #18  
Old 22 January 2007, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
"if your going to be gone more than a few days in the middle of winter, we expect that for general safety, you arrange for a neighbor or other party to clear the walkway for you"
This is common practice in North Dakota. Whenever I'm going to be leaving, no matter what time of the year it is, I'll arrange for a neighbor to mow my lawn/shovel my driveway and sidewalks, get my mail, etc. My neighbors do it as well. It is also common knowledge in this neck of the woods that I am responsible for shoveling my sidewalks lest someone should slip or trip. I have never heard of a case of a resident being fined for such an ordinance, but businesses do frequently. Usually, though, the "fine" is actually what the city charges to do it rather than an actual injury claim.

http://tinyurl.com/yo9ror

http://tinyurl.com/253oom
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  #19  
Old 22 January 2007, 02:13 PM
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I'm not sure if it's a city ordinance where I live, though I know that if you go long enough without shoveling they will stop delivering mail. What I always find amusing about that is the notice the put in your mail box explaining why they didn't deliver your mail that day.

I've often wondered if the law suits over slipping on ice aren't more UL then fact. I could see where in certain extenuating circumstance a home ownere should be held liable, but if it's just a matter of not keeping up with a storm or not putting enough salt down to anticipate ice buildup, I can't see how a homeowner should be charged. Rather, I consider it my responsibility as someone living in a cold climate in winter time to expect that things might be slippery.
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  #20  
Old 22 January 2007, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
I'm not sure if it's a city ordinance where I live, though I know that if you go long enough without shoveling they will stop delivering mail. What I always find amusing about that is the notice the put in your mail box explaining why they didn't deliver your mail that day.
What I find amusing about it is that the mail carriers in my neighborhood don't use the sidewalk. The mailboxes are on the houses, and they just walk across the yards.

I believe there is an ordinance in my town requiring that homeowners clear the sidewalk in front of their house, but it's not widely obeyed. The walk in front of my house was cleared after yesterday's storm by a kind neighbor, but many of the sidewalks in the neighborhood weren't cleared. Of course, any snow we get doesn't usually stick around for long, so most people may just assume it will melt soon.
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