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Staying Safe During and After a Snowstorm

Staying Safe During and After a Snowstorm

Depending on where you live, the recent blizzard either produced an underwhelming amount of snow, or it buried your cars under nearly three feet of freezing white powder. While most of New York City temporarily shut down in response to the weather, it didn’t take long for the streets to start humming with activity again.

Who Is Responsible For Clearing Off The Sidewalks?

Depending on where you live, it may be your responsibility to keep your sidewalk free of snow and ice. According to the NYC Administrative Code, anyone in charge of a lot or building, whether that’s an occupant, tenant, lessee or owner, is required to clean the sidewalk adjacent to their building. If you are renting a space, you should check with your landlord to see what the lease says about who is responsible for keeping the sidewalk clear, which includes keeping the fire hydrant, if there is one, clear of any debris, snow or ice to make sure that it remains accessible in the event of a fire.

When Do I Need To Clear Off The Sidewalk By?

As long as snow is still falling from the sky, there’s no need to worry about clearing off your sidewalk. However, as soon as the snow stops the timer starts.

  • If snow stops falling between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., you have four hours to clear off the sidewalk.
  • If snow stops falling between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., you have fourteen hours to clear off the sidewalk.
  • If snow stops falling between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., you have to clear it off by 11 a.m.

What Happens If Snow Plows Leave A Snow Bank At The End Of My Driveway?

Unfortunately, this cleanup job falls on the property owner or tenant of the sidewalk adjacent to their property. These snow ridges are unavoidable, and snow clearing crews don’t have the time to stop off at every driveway to clear off the extra snow according to officials. They specifically warn against simply pushing the snow out into the street, because if a Sanitation worker catches you in the act, you could be fined $100.

If someone is injured after falling on an uncleared patch of ice on the sidewalk, they may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for keeping the sidewalk free of any hazards. Slip and fall injuries often result in broken or seriously injured wrists and arms because of how falling people attempt to catch themselves, but they can also result in serious head injuries, or worse. The New York City Department of Sanitation released a guide (PDF) for NYC residents and businesses that details who is responsible for clearing the sidewalk, and what that responsibility entails. Failure to clear up your sidewalk may result in a fine of anything from $100 to $350 depending on the situation and how many times you have been cited in the past.

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