It’s January in the Twin Tiers, and even though we have not seen a lot of snow yet this winter, we have seen plenty of ice on sidewalks and roadways.

icy signIt will be treacherous walking until we get our January thaw.

So if you slip and fall and are injured on someone else’s sidewalk, who is responsible?

Generally, it’s the property owners’ responsibility to make sure their sidewalk is clear of snow, ice and any other hazards.

In the City of Elmira, for example, homeowners are required by both city and state codes to clear their sidewalks.

Section 302.3 of the Property Maintenance Code of the State of NY requires a homeowner to do the following: All sidewalks, walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces and similar areas shall be kept in a proper state of repair, and maintained free from hazardous conditions.

In the City of Elmira, homeowners are responsible for clearing snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of their property. If you fail to clear the sidewalk within 12 hours after it starts snowing, you can be fined $100 by Code Enforcement. It is also the homeowner’s responsibility to shovel out fire hydrants on or near their property. If a fire were to break out, the Elmira Fire Department would lose valuable time attempting to locate and dig out a buried fire hydrant.

The Elmira Department of Public Works clears the sidewalk from all city-owned properties and parks with tractors.

Aside from legal obligations, keeping your property safe is the right thing to do for your neighbors! Nobody wants to have a person fall on their property because they did not bother to shovel or salt icy spots.

The bottom line is if you fail to clean your walk and someone falls on your property, you are more than likely to face some sort of legal ramifications.

I talk to people all the time who fall on snow and ice and the first thing we investigate is whether that property owner properly cleared their sidewalk of snow and ice. If you didn’t, you could face civil liability and the insurance company handling your homeowners’ insurance will have to deal with it.

Lately, I have noticed many business owners don’t clear the snow and ice from their property. That is inexcusable. You are inviting people to come to your business and at a minimum you should make it safe so people can get there without hurting themselves.

It’s winter and it’s New York State. It’s simple. Do the right thing. Make plans to keep your property safe, because if you don’t and someone is injured or killed on your property, you could face some major legal troubles.

This blog post was adapted from a “Law Talk” segment with me during the WETM News at Noon on Jan. 14, 2015. Ziff Law Firm lawyers discuss legal issues in the news at 12:20 p.m. every Wednesday on Law Talk. Set your DVR to catch the five-minute segments each week!

Thanks for reading!



James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and