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Legal Rules to Review for Snow Experts

Every year without fail, thousands of slip and fall claims are filed against businesses related to snow or ice present on their properties.  Depending on the location and jurisdiction of the incident and the legal proceedings, there are common legal standards that may be applicable*.

1) The Natural Accumulation Rule

This rule states that a business owner cannot be held liable for something that he did not create nor is considered a defective property condition and the accumulation of snow or ice on his property would meet these criteria.  The implications of the rule prevent the business owner from being held responsible for accidents or injuries caused as a result of said accumulations.  He is also not responsible for ensuring the removal of snow or ice accumulations from his property. Ask a snow expert if this rule would apply in your case and jurisdiction.

2) The Storm In-Progress Rule

The “Storm In-Progress Rule” asserts that a business or property owner need not commence the snow removal process until a reasonable amount of time has passed following the end of a storm producing snowfall. The point at which a storm ended will be determined by the court as well as details concerning whether the plaintiff or injured person(s) slipped on snow that should have been removed prior to the incident. A standard of “Reasonable Care” will be applied to the judgment of the action or forbearance of snow removal. With the occurrence of several consecutive snow storms, this rule can become unclear in its applicability. Seek the counsel of a snow expert witness to gain clarity on your situation.

3) The Reasonable Care Rule

This rule places an expectation of acting with “reasonable care” upon a property owner in regards to the presence of snow or ice on his or her property.  Whether or not reasonable care existed in a case will also be determined by the court and can be interpreted by a snow expert.  Under this standard, snow and ice are treated no differently than any sort of spill which should be promptly cleaned or removed.  The owner is responsible to act upon the reasonable and, in this case implied, anticipation of a resulting injury.  

*Depending on the state, US rules can vary widely and are not necessarily written here as the rule of law, an example of meaning or intended to be for or against any particular case or incident. They are written here as an example of similar descriptions found in the law and for specific laws in specific states, all references should be verified by an attorney who is practicing law in that particular jurisdiction for verification.


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