COMMERCIAL PROPERTY AND SIDEWALK SNOW REMOVAL

If you read my last article, you will remember I made reference to the “Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act.” It is important to understand that the law applies only to residential property. The legal obligations for businesses are very different.

Most businesses are within a city, so make certain you know the local municipal ordinances regarding your obligations as a merchant in your city.

The next principle that applies is the same as for residential property. If you disturb the natural accumulation of snow, and doing so creates a more dangerous situation than if you had not disturbed the snow (the natural accumulation rule), the business owner can be found liable for injuries from slipping on the ice. This is usually the situation where snow is piled on a parking lot, melts during the day, and then creates slippery ice the next morning. So should you just leave the snow where it is? NO!!!

An Illinois court explained the rule clearly when it said that the operator of a business has a duty to provide a safe means of entering and leaving the property. The court went on to say that business owners are not excused from the obligation to keep their property safe by the “natural accumulation” rule that protects residential property owners from liability.

If you own a business, you are inviting customers to your property. You have a legal obligation to keep those invitees safe from dangers inside and outside your structure. The same principle applies to wet slippery floors, falling ice cycles, icy steps or parking lots, and snow covered walks.

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