If you own a business, you’d better own a shovel. When it snows, ices, or freezes outside, walking surfaces can become treacherous to customers entering a business property on foot. Business owners have a legal duty to keep their premises safe for visitors. If a customer slips and falls on uncleared ice on a business property, there can be serious legal consequences to the property owner who didn’t properly maintain the premises.
Depending on where in Maryland the business is located, there will be varying laws that dictate when the business needs to clear ice and snow. In some places, a commercial property owner has as little as three hours to remove snow from the property after a snowfall.
After learning more about when businesses need to clear ice and snow from the property, contact the office of Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC to discuss what legal steps can be taken after a fall resulting in injury. We provide help for slip and fall injury victims in Baltimore and surrounding Maryland counties. We can evaluate your case at no cost to you and offer experience guidance regarding your legal options for financial recovery.
Baltimore and Maryland Snow Removal Laws
In the state of Maryland, decisions regarding snow and ice removal laws are made at the county, and sometimes city, level.
In the city of Baltimore, The Baltimore City Department of Housing & Community Development regulates and enforces the duty of property owners to keep their premises safe, even in wintry conditions. Owners of commercial properties face a fine of $100 if they do not follow local ordinances for clearing snow and ice. Baltimore business owners have an obligation to comply with the following ice and snow removal laws:
- All snow and ice that has accumulated on public walking areas adjacent to the property must be cleared by the property owner.
- Snow and ice must be removed within 3 hours after the end of a snow or ice event. If the precipitation stops between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m., the owner has until 11 a.m. the following day to clear all snow and ice.
There are also county laws that govern how residents of Baltimore County should maintain their properties after a snowfall of ice event. The Baltimore County codes for the removal of snow and ice state that:
- Commercial property owners must clear away or remove any snow or ice within 24 hours.
- Snow and ice must be cleared from the business’s foot pavements, buildings, and occupied or unoccupied lots.
- Ice and snow must be removed from property gutters leading to walking areas.
- Snow may not be thrown into the street, and gutters and drains may not be blocked.
If a business owner in Baltimore County fails to sufficiently remove snow and ice from their property, the county government may remove the accumulated ice and snow for them and bill them for the expense. On top of this cost, any business owner who fails to comply with these laws is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of $25 for each offense, plus an additional $25 for each day the snow and ice goes uncleared.
Other counties in Maryland have their own ordinances for ice and snow removal. For residents of these neighboring counties, please find information on winter cleanup laws by following the links to the county government webpages.
- Anne Arundel County
- Howard County
- Prince George’s County
- Montgomery County
- Carroll County
- Frederick County
- Harford County does not have county-wide snow and ice removal laws. You can find information specific to the cities of Bel Air, Aberdeen, and Havre de Grace.
Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall Accident on Snow or Ice?
Regardless of local snow removal laws, a property owner has an obligation to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors and to remove foreseeable hazards. Snow and ice present foreseeable and obvious dangers to people on foot. If ice and snow have accumulated on sidewalks, parking lots, or other walking areas on the business’s property, it is the responsibility of the business owner to clear those areas so pedestrians do not slip and suffer injury.
If a business owner’s negligence in snow or ice removal causes a customer to fall and sustain serious injuries, there is a strong chance that the business owner will be found liable. As an area of premises liability law, slip and fall cases depend on proving property owner negligence. The plaintiff (the injured victim filing a legal claim against the defendant) and their attorney must show that the property owner had a duty to recognize and fix a dangerous condition, that they failed in this duty, and that the plaintiff was injured and suffered losses as a result.
Slip and fall accidents can at times be difficult to prove, but a qualified slip and fall lawyer will be able to help the injured victim win the compensation they need to financially recover from the injury. The costs associated with a serious slip and fall injury can be tremendous. A serious slip and fall injury is vastly different from a minor tumble that leaves the victim with little more than a few scrapes or bruises. Serious falls on snow or ice can cause injuries as severe as permanent brain damage or paralysis.
Because of this risk, business owners must be diligent is keeping their grounds free from snow and ice. Some of the most common winter slip and fall injuries from slipping on snow or ice include:
- Head injury and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Back and spinal injury
- Spinal compression fracture
- Broken bones
- Cracked skull
- Internal organ damage
- Wrist, ankle, or shoulder injury
- Soft tissue damage (sprain, strain, or tear)
- Herniated disc
- Cut or laceration from falling on a sharp object
These types of injuries often lead to intense pain and suffering, steep medical bills, prolonged recovery times, missed work and lost wages, and difficulty performing everyday tasks. If you were hurt after falling on snow or ice on a businessowner’s property, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with a slip and fall attorney from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC. We can work to help you recover your losses and achieve financial stability after injury.