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Must Property Owners Remove Snow and Ice?

February 9, 2021 Personal Injury

It’s winter in Pennsylvania when snow and ice make for slippery sidewalks, steps, and other walkways. If you live in Pennsylvania, it’s something you expect. Does that mean property owners have a duty to anticipate winter weather and take appropriate measures to minimize the risk of injuries to visitors?

Recovering Damages from a Property Owner for a Winter-Weather Fall

In Pennsylvania, to recover compensation for a slip-and-fall injury on ice or snow, you must show that the property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition but failed to take reasonable steps to either remove the snow/ice or properly warn others. Pennsylvania courts have consistently held that a property owner has 24 hours from the end of a snowstorm to either remove accumulated snow or ice or provide visitors with notice of the potential risks.

The “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine

Pennsylvania has an unusual statute, known as the “hills and ridges” rule, which applies when there is an accumulation of snow. Under this legal doctrine, a property owner’s duty to remove snow or warn of its danger arises only if the accumulation of snow has caused the formation of hills or ridges. This principle applies in these situations:

  • The hill or ridge unreasonably obstructs pedestrians;
  • The hill or ridge actually causes an injury; or
  • The property owner knows or should know of the presence of the hill or ridge at the time of the accident.

A property owner may not use the hills-and-ridges doctrine as a defense when an injury is caused by some other type of negligence.

Contact Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus

At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we have protected the rights of personal injury victims in Pennsylvania since 1980. We offer a free initial consultation. We are currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, e-mail, and videoconference. To schedule an appointment, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.