Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Shovel diligently to avoid Pittsburgh slip and fall liability

Insurance is protection in case of an accident, but not an excuse to act carelessly or recklessly just because coverage is available. You wouldn't speed across Allegheny County, weaving in and out of traffic lanes, risking your life and the lives of others simply because you're insured for damages.

With or without insurance, you could be liable for criminal or civil charges.

The same is true with insurance for homes and businesses. An accumulation of snow or ice on a front sidewalk may cause a visitor to slip and fall. Just because insurance will cover the injured person's medical costs doesn't mean the property owner or manager can ignore the dangerous condition.

What if the weather makes it impossible to maintain a safe surface? A walkway cleared in the morning can become a hazard by afternoon. Then, there are occasions where shoveling seems to make a surface more slippery than not clearing the walkway at all.

Property owners cannot monitor every snowflake, but they can avoid negligence. Legal advisers suggest diligence. Making an honest effort to keep walking surfaces clear of slippery substances is not negligence, but the effort must persist.

It's not uncommon in Pittsburgh to shovel away several inches of snow before heading out the door to work. What if snow continues to fall while you're away and someone gets hurt? A lawsuit could result, but a homeowner who fails to shovel at all would have a poorer legal standing than the property owner who takes some action to clear the path.

It's a good idea to understand local ordinances that outline expectations for snow removal. It's never a bad idea to go above and beyond the rules to ensure visitors aren't hurt.

Keep in mind you depend upon other property owners to maintain safe premises for you. Any person injured on someone else's property has a right to file a claim for damages.

Source: Akron Beacon Journal, "Akron attorney says ignore urban legend: Shovel the sidewalk" Dave Scott, Feb. 04, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Toll Free: 866-466-5789
Phone: 412-567-1232
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