The duty to remove snow from one's walk

Winter is coming to Kentucky soon, and with that, snow and ice is inevitably going to fall somewhere in the state. While many people enjoy the snow because it is beautiful and fun to play in, snow-packed or icy sidewalks and streets also pose dangers both to motorists and to people who walk or ride bikes.

Interestingly, Kentucky does not have a general statewide law requiring landowners to shovel their walks after a snow or ice storm. However, one significant city, Lexington, does have a local ordinance which requires landowners to shovel their walkways within 4 hours of sunrise after a snow, so long as the precipitation has stopped falling.

The fact that there is no law requiring landowners to clear their sidewalks in most of this state does not mean that the owner of a property is off the hook should someone slip and fall on snow and ice which the landowner left on its walkways.

The reason a property owner can still be held accountable is that the tort of negligence requires people, including landowners, always to exercise reasonable care so that others do not get hurt. This duty to be careful always applies, even if there is no written law in place to require or prohibit a certain behavior.

As a matter of taking care that others do not get hurt, landowners should make sure their property's walkways are clear of snow and ice, particularly if their business is open to the public. If a landowner fails in this obligation, a Kentucky who gets hurt in a slip and fall may be able to sue the landowner in a premises liability case.

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