Winter is Coming – Help for Homeowners in Maryland
As we are all aware, the warmer and more moderate Maryland fall weather goes by in the blink of an eye, and the dropping temperatures and cold air signal that winter is rapidly approaching.
Winter weather brings snow and ice, which means increased car accidents and more slip and fall incidents because of treacherous road and sidewalk conditions. Additionally, the days are shorter, the nights are longer, and the decreased outdoor visibility can adversely impact you on your daily route. Wintertime carries a significantly greater risk of these accidents. Therefore, it is extremely important to help you prepare and protect yourself from potential personal injury claims and lawsuits.
First and foremost, simply being informed of weather reports and road conditions can go a long way towards protecting you and your loved ones from harm. There is no substitute for advance knowledge and information. In addition, being vigilant and cognizant of the increased risks involved while driving or walking outside during wintertime can protect you from being injured.
Separate and apart from being injured, there is also the risk that if you do not take the necessary precautions to protect others, you could find yourself as a defendant in a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Obviously, all the tips and suggestions above will help protect you from causing an accident that injures others. But another area of potential risk is premises liability and being deemed responsible for slip and fall injuries to others on your property.
As homeowners and renters, it is your responsibility to ensure that the sidewalks outside of your house are cleared of any snow and/or ice. Failure to do so can result in liability for an injury sustained by someone who slips and falls on the sidewalk. Baltimore County and Baltimore City have slightly different requirements:
Baltimore County Local Ordinance §18-3-107(a) states that:
Within 24 hours after the fall of any snow, each person or public institution occupying or using a residential, commercial, or industrial building in any manner or for any purpose shall remove and clear away, or cause to be removed and cleared away, the snow from the foot pavements fronting the respective houses, stores, shops, stables, houses of worship, lots occupied by any buildings, unoccupied buildings, and unoccupied lots that run along streets in the county. (emphasis added).
By contrast, Baltimore City has a different time frame:
305.8 Snow and ice on sidewalks. After any snowfall that results in an accumulation of snow or ice on the ground, the snow and ice must be removed and cleared away from all sidewalks that abut the premises.
305.8.1 Time for compliance. The snow and ice must be removed and cleared away:
- within 6 hours after the snow has stopped falling; or
- if the snow has stoppedfalling between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m., before 11 a.m.
Baltimore City IPMC §305.8 and 305.8.1 (2015).
Please note the differences—Baltimore County’s snow/ice removal period begins when the snow starts falling, as opposed to Baltimore City which begins when the snow stops falling.
These provisions arguably impose a duty on a property owner to clear the snow and ice within the designated timeframes. Failure to do so may be the basis for a negligence claim against you, so make sure that you are in compliance with the appropriate ordinance during this winter season.
Dubo Law hopes that you remain safe and take the appropriate precautions during these coming months. Please contact us if you or a loved one suffer a personal injury in Baltimore City, Baltimore County or anywhere else in Maryland. We are prepared to make sure that you are compensated for your injury, lost wages, and pain and suffering.