What I have learned from winter weather claims. Winter weather is on its way, now is the perfect time for me to share a bit of information on snow and ice codes in Indiana. It is important for landowners and tenants to be familiar with ordinances, as a slip or fall on their property could lead to a costly Personal Liability claim, with the possibility of litigation. City ordinances and local laws typically dictate the legal obligation to remove snow and ice from sidewalks and other areas which may be adjacent to an insured’s property.
INDIANA MANDATES TO KNOW
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indianapolis has a city ordinance mandating that property owners clear snow on time with a window of time dependent on when the snowfall stops. If snowfall stops by 7 pm, then snow removal needs to be complete by 9 am the next morning. If snowfall stops by 9 am, then snow removal needs to be complete by 7 pm that evening. The state of Indiana is very clear that snow from the sidewalk you shoveled cannot obstruct the roadways, walkways, or paths, and pushing or shoveling snow could be considered an obstruction. This includes shoveling snow and moving snow from a snow blower. It’s important to find a place to leave your snow that is out of the way. Also, city officials say if a resident is unable to clear snow, they can call 211, a free service for Hoosiers to find local resources they need.
WHAT A LANDLORD OR PROPERTY OWNER NEEDS TO KNOW
As a standard rule, landlords and property owners should take reasonable action to clear natural snow and ice accumulations on walkways and other areas where visitors or other invitees are expected to walk, within a reasonable amount of time after the weather event. Reasonable action includes inspecting the premises to uncover potentially dangerous conditions. Winter premises liability law also states that property owners must provide sufficient warning to visitors about potential hazards. The idea is that a landowner is not expected to remedy an unknown hazard.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT BLACK ICE
If black ice is a recurring problem in a specific area of a landowner’s property or is the result of some condition of the property that the owner was aware of, the landowner may be found to have been on notice that black ice was a potential danger. For a rental property, the responsibility of the ice and snow removal depends on what standards are outlined in the lease agreement.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM WINTER WEATHER CLAIMS
When I handled Liability claims, if a landowner removed snow and ice in a reasonable fashion, within a reasonable amount of time after a weather event, there was a greater likelihood of a favorable outcome for the insured. I have information on the snow and ice laws in every state, so please let me know if additional information is needed.
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Disclaimer: These monthly blogs contain general information and may be subject to change. Policy language may vary by insurance carrier, so please refer to the specific policy in question. The Claims Advocate does not make any representations that coverage does or does not exist for any claim or loss and in no way guarantees coverage for claims.