Responsibility For Icy Sidewalks in Chicago

Icy Sidewalks in Chicago

Homeowners, commercial tenants, landlords, and the city of Chicago itself share responsibility for icy sidewalks. This guide will discuss liability, who is responsible for what, and more.

Who is Responsible For Icy Sidewalks in Chicago?

In Chicago, the responsibility for maintaining sidewalks, especially during icy conditions, primarily falls on property owners, both businesses and homeowners. According to the Municipal Code of Chicago, property owners are required to keep sidewalks adjacent to their properties clear of snow and ice. When snow stops falling during the daytime, owners have three hours to clear it unless the snow stops after 7 PM. In that case, they have until 10 AM the next morning. If the ice is too hard to remove, sprinkling it with sand, sawdust, or a similar material is necessary for safety until weather permits more thorough removal. If sidewalks are not cleared, homeowners and business proprietors can face fines.

While the city itself is not generally responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks in front of private properties, the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation handles plowing and salting arterial streets and ensures that pedestrian pathways on city-owned property are safe. City crews and equipment are usually seen clearing main roadways, especially after significant snow events, ensuring that transportation remains as fluid as possible during inclement weather.

Regarding parks, the responsibility for maintaining icy sidewalks in city parks falls on the Chicago Park District. This agency is tasked with ensuring that pathways and sidewalks within its jurisdiction, including those in parks, are safe and free from ice and snow, providing a secure environment for park-goers even during the winter months.

Can the City of Chicago Issue You a Citation if You Don’t Treat Your Sidewalk?

Yes, in the city of Chicago, property owners can indeed be issued a citation for not maintaining their icy sidewalks. According to the Municipal Code of Chicago, both homeowners and business proprietors are required to keep the sidewalks adjacent to their properties clear of snow and ice. Failure to clear these sidewalks in a timely manner after a snowfall can result in fines. The city has set specific timeframes within which the snow or ice should be removed, depending on when the snowfall ends. Neglecting this duty not only poses a safety risk to pedestrians but also places the property owner at risk for financial penalties imposed by the city.

Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents in Chicago

Can a Commercial Tenant Be Sued For Injuries Caused by Icy Sidewalks?

Yes, commercial tenants, like store owners, in Chicago can potentially be sued if someone is injured due to icy sidewalks adjacent to their leased property. The underlying principle is the duty of care to provide a safe environment for customers, pedestrians, and others who might use the sidewalk. If a person slips, falls, and sustains injuries because the store owner failed to clear the ice or snow, the injured party might have a claim based on negligence. A personal injury attorney in Chicago would argue that the duty of care lies on the tenant or landlord in such instances.

However, the actual liability can be contingent upon the specific terms of the lease agreement between the tenant and the landlord. Some commercial leases may stipulate that the landlord is responsible for snow and ice removal, while others might place that responsibility on the tenant. In many cases, even if the lease specifies that the landlord is responsible, a store owner who is aware of a hazard might still have a duty to warn or take measures to prevent injury.

Thus, while commercial tenants can be sued, the outcome of such litigation would depend on the specifics of the situation, the lease agreement, and whether the store owner acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Can Homeowners Be Sued in Chicago for Icy Sidewalks?

Homeowners can be held legally liable for economic or non-economic damages in Chicago if someone is injured on icy sidewalks adjacent to their property. The law generally expects homeowners to exercise a duty of care in ensuring that their premises are reasonably safe from hazards. This responsibility extends to invited guests as well. If a friend, whom you’ve invited over, slips and sustains injuries on an icy patch on your sidewalk, you could potentially face legal consequences. The basis for such lawsuits is typically negligence, asserting that the homeowner failed to act reasonably in clearing or managing the icy conditions. While the city’s Municipal Code establishes a duty for homeowners to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks within a certain time frame, liability in personal injury lawsuits often hinges on whether the homeowner’s actions, or lack thereof, were reasonable under the circumstances. 

If you have questions about your liability, err on the side of caution. Ice your sidewalks, put out signs, or refer to your lease agreement!

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.