Snow and Ice Accidents
Snow and ice are an inevitable part of a Colorado winter, and no matter how careful we may think we are, snow and ice can still cause accidents. While the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of “snow” and “accident” may be car, it’s also dangerous to walk around in the winter when walkways, pathways, and parking lots are full of snow and ice.
Accumulated snow and ice can lead to injuries due to slips and falls. These can be especially dangerous to people with limited mobility, such as the elderly or disabled. However, snow and ice hazards on walkways, pathways, and parking lots are avoidable. Those who are hurt because someone negligently left snow and ice on the walkways may recover damages…if someone had a duty to keep the sidewalk free of snow and ice.
Residents and Commercial Property Owners and Lessees Don’t Necessarily Have to Shovel and De-Ice the City Sidewalk
Most cities in Colorado, including the Denver metro area, require building occupants or owners to shovel snow from the sidewalks as soon after a snowfall as possible. Homeowners and renters in those cities may face ticketing if they don’t clear the sidewalks of hazardous snow and ice. However, unless the statutes require the building occupiers or owners to keep the sidewalks free of ice and snow, then there is no duty to keep the sidewalk snow- and ice-free.
What’s the Liability Then?
Cities may not be liable for snowy and icy sidewalks. As noted above, building occupants may not either. However, there is liability if the city or the building occupant specifically acted in a way to make snow or ice accumulate on the sidewalk.
For example, if a homeowner used a snow blower to clear his driveway and all the snow went onto the sidewalk, he created a hazard that he is now responsible for it. He now has a duty to protect other people from this hazard by clearing the snow. Likewise, an owner may be liable if she allows dangerous icicles to form on the awning of the restaurant building she owns and one of the icicles falls and injures someone since she owns and controls the awning.
What About Private Property?
Property owners have a duty to protect anyone legally on the property from foreseeable harm. For example, even if an apartment building owner doesn’t have a duty to keep the city sidewalks snow-free, he may still have a duty to residents to keep the courtyard walkways or the apartment stairs snow- and ice-free. Likewise, businesses must keep their own walkways hazard-free for their customer’s sake even if they don’t clear city sidewalks, too. Property owners are responsible for protecting visitors from dangers they knew or should have known about, which typically means having a system for the prompt removal of snow and ice from pathways, walkways, and parking lots.
If you or a loved one have been injured because of snow or ice left on a pathway, walkway, or parking lot, call 303-393-6666 to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers and find out if you have a claim. Depending on the facts, you may be entitled to compensation to cover any losses due to injury.
 Woods v. Delgar Ltd., 226 P.3d 1178, 1182 (Colo. App. 2009)