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A Property Owner’s Duty to Address Snowy or Icy Conditions

Snow and Ice Removal—What Must a Property Owner Do?

Winter is almost upon us. Over the next few months, far too many people will suffer injuries slipping on ice or snow on someone else’s residential or commercial property. In Delaware, as in other states, the owner of residential or commercial property has a duty to maintain the premises in a way that minimizes the risk of injury to anyone legally visiting the property. How does this apply to accumulations of snow or ice? What must a landowner do to protect his or her interests?

Liability for Snowy or Icy Conditions

In a lawsuit for injuries suffered after a fall on residential or commercial property, you can typically seek compensation from either the owner, or the possessor of property, or both. As a general rule, for a property owner to have responsibility for injuries related to a fall, the injured person must show one of three things happened:

  • The owner or possessor neglected to perform reasonable maintenance, or to properly monitor the property to become aware of potentially dangerous conditions,
  • The owner or possessor knew (or should reasonably have known) about dangerous conditions that actually existed, or
  • The owner or possessor created the dangerous conditions, either through acts or omissions.

The rules governing the removal of ice and snow vary from state to state. In Delaware, no distinction is made between snow or ice as a dangerous condition, and any other type of risk. The key question will be whether or not the property owner took reasonable steps to remedy the problem. Important factors will include the amount of snow and the timeliness with which the property owner responded. If a jury determines that a reasonable person would have responded differently, and that the property owner had the ability to respond that way, they can find the owner or possessor liable.

Contact Us

For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call (302) 777-1000 to schedule an appointment. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.