The City this Central New York personal injury lawyer calls home, Geneva, New York, recently amended its sidewalk law. Many local homeowners are concerned about the effect this might have on their “liability” for snow and ice on sidewalks. Before the amendment, the City Code had said, and continues to say, that homeowners (and business owns) “shall at all times keep the sidewalk (abutting their property) free from ice, snow, grass, weeds, rubbish and other obstructions; and shall at all times keep said sidewalk in a good state of repair . . .”. (Geneva City Code section 306-7). The Code further said, “If any person shall neglect or refuse to comply with the requirements of this section as to snow, ice or other obstructions, or sidewalks out of repairs, the Director of Public Works may cause all necessary work to be done at the expense of the person so in default” (id.) The amended law now states that, for snow and ice, the abutting property owner has only 24 hours from the cessation of snowfall to clean it up.
Bottom line, the City has upped the ante so that now, if you don’t remove the snow and ice within 24 hours, the City will do it and charge you for it.
The question for today’s blog post is, given the mandates of this City Code, can a passerby who slips on snow or ice or trips on a defect on the sidewalk abutting my property sue me for failing to remove snow or ice or otherwise failing to maintain the sidewalk abutting my property so that it is safe?