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The law often requires a building owner to remove snow and when they remove it, they must do it in a reasonable way.
CHICAGO, IL, January 01, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ -- As Chicago braces for a big snow, many of us will pull out the snow shovels and other equipment we use to remove the snow. But many in the Chicago metro area live in apartments and condominium buildings or rent a home. Residents in those places don't shovel their own walks and driveways. Instead, they rely on landlords and building associations to shovel the common areas where they frequent.
But sometimes they don't.
Do landlords and building associations have an obligation to shovel snow? The answer depends on a number of factors.
1. Municipalities Require Snow Removal
Many cities, towns and villages have ordinances that require building owners to remove snow. For example, the City of Chicago requires that landlords and building owners remove snow in certain circumstances. These circumstances can include how much snow falls in a given time and the use or type of building. To know if your city requires a landlord to remove snow, check with your local building department or code enforcement officer.
2. Contractors Have Special Obligations
Many commercial buildings hire professional companies to remove snow. These contractors almost always have a written agreement with the building owner or management company that require snow removal. The contractors charge either by occurrence of snow, often called a "push" or for a season. Both types of agreements require snow removal, often after a certain amount. For example, the contractor might be required to required remove the snow after ½ inch of snow. These contracts may also include other services like salting certain areas.
If you are a tenant or condo owner, you likely won't have access to the agreement with the snow removal company. However, you can certainly ask the building owner who the contractor is if you have concerns.
3. Unnatural Accumulation
In Illinois, a property owner is always responsible for unnatural accumulations of snow or ice. Unnatural accumulations are piles of snow or puddles of ice that were created by someone else, not due to snow falling from the sky or the frost-thaw cycle. For example, if a landlord pushes snow into a section of sidewalk and you fall on that snow pile, the landlord is responsible for your injuries because he created the condition.
Unnatural accumulation can also occur with ice. For example, if the landlord routes a downspout across a sidewalk and the water freezes, the landlord is responsible for the unnatural accumulation. If you fall on the ice, your landlord is responsible for your medical bills and care.
4. Duty of Due Care
No matter who removes snow or ice, the law requires that the person doing the removal act with "due care." Due care means the person removing the snow must act as a reasonable person. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances. However, whatever the person does, they must do so in a reasonable way.
What do I do if I am injured?
If you or a loved one is injured as a result of poor snow removal, it is always best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer and get advice on whether you have a case. A good lawyer will listen to the facts and let you know if you have a case. Sometimes the lawyer will have to research the laws, rules and regulations in your area to see if there are special circumstances.
While the snow falls in Chicago, let's all be careful. Knowing the rules and laws that apply will not only help you stay safe but, hopefully, help unnecessary injuries to others.
G. Grant Dixon III is the founder of Dixon Law Office in LaGrange, Illinois. Grant has 31 years of experience and has represented many victims who were hurt because of poor snow removal. One of his cases was heard by the Appellate Court and became an important case on the topic of landlord responsibility for snow removal. Grant can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (708) 354-9880.
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