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Break Out the Snow Shovels

Man Shoveling Snow on His Property

The Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier would like to remind Flagstaff residents that they must remove snow from sidewalks bordering their property or face a city fine.


This week Flagstaff is getting more than just a dusting of snow, by the end of the week Flagstaff could receive up to 8-12 inches of snow. We just want to remind homeowners and business owners that the City of Flagstaff requires you to shovel your sidewalk within 24 hours or else you could face fines and cost of removal.

It’s Snowing, Do You Know Where Your Snow Shovel Is?

In early October we have written a previous blog post concerning premises liability and just want to remind people to shovel their sidewalks. The City of Flagstaff Ordinance 8-03-001-0004 requires the removal of snow, ice, dirt or obstructions from sidewalks bordering your building by the owner, occupant or tenant within 24 hours. Failure to abide by the City Ordinance could result in a criminal citation and a bill for the cost of removing the snow. The City Ordinance is clear in stating that businesses and residents have a duty to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm.

If the City of Flagstaff Ordinance was not enough incentive to break out the shovel and clear your sidewalk, Arizona’s law on premise liability might convince you to think otherwise. A business owner could face additional liability for failing to clear their sidewalks and parking lots if one of their customers happens to slip and fall while trying to navigate a snowy sidewalk. Arizona’s premise liability law could make a business owner liable for slip and fall injuries. Arizona courts have found that a business owner “only owes a duty to exercise reasonable care to his invitees.” Walker v. Montgomery Ward, 20 Ariz. App. 255, 258 (1973). This means the premise owner has a duty to discover, correct and warn of hazards which the premise owner can reasonably foresee as endangering an invitee. See, Markowitz v. Ariz. Parks, 145 Ariz. 352 (1985). A business owner has a duty to warn, correct and discover a dangerous condition if you caused it, had actual knowledge of it or you should have known about the dangerous condition. In most circumstances, a business owner who knowingly fails to shovel a snowy sidewalk would breach their duty of care as outlined above. Business owners need to be aware that they could be slipping down the slippery slope of a lawsuit if they fail to shovel their sidewalks this winter.

The best practice to observe when dealing with a snowy sidewalks is to be a good neighbor. Business owners and residents should shovel their sidewalks as soon as reasonably possible. If you rent a space and the owner is responsible for shoveling the snow and fails to do so, you should notify the owner but be prepared to break out the parka and the shovel. Under the city ordinance both the landlord and tenant are responsible for the sidewalk. If someone slips and falls, the injured party will most likely sue the landlord and tenant and let the attorneys figure out their liability. Finally, you should shovel your sidewalk because it just makes good business sense. In today’s economy why make it more tough to get that customer in the door because the customer is too scared to walk in your door?

If you have questions or concerns about premises liability or you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, contact the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400 and ask to speak with Tony or Daniel or visit our website. If you have been injured in an accident you have rights and you should contact an attorney before you speak with the insurance company. Our firm has two locations and if you have been severely injured we will visit you at your home.

About Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC

The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier provide legal services in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you are in need of a lawyer, please contact our firm today about your case by calling (855) 774-5400. We offer free consultations 24/7, affordable rates, and have payment plans available.
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