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Man Shoveling Snow in Winter

Snow Time is Shovel Time

Man Shoveling Snow in Winter

The City of Flagstaff requires residents to clear snow, ice, dirt, or any other object from obstructing the sidewalk bordering your building. Failure to do so could lead to a citation and fine.

El Nino is back and the weather forecasters are predicting above average precipitation for Northern Arizona. What does that mean for us? It means the possibility of a snowy winter, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preference. If you’re a skier or a snowboarder you can’t wait to hit the slopes. If you’re a business owner it translates to increased revenue as more Phoenicians come up for the weekend to play in the snow. Before you break out the snowboard and skis you should invest in a good snow shovel and plenty of salt.

A snowy winter means a lot of Flagstaff business owners and residents will be busy shoveling their sidewalks and parking lots. 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 clear your sidewalks could result in a criminal citation and a bill for the cost of removal from the city. The City of Flagstaff’s Ordinance makes it clear that businesses and residents have a duty to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm or else face a citation and fine.

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). To examine the issue of whether or not the premise/business owner breached their duty of care to an invitee/customer, the court will consider:

  • If the dangerous condition is the result of the defendant’s act;
  • If the defendant had actual knowledge or notice of the dangerous condition;
  • If the dangerous condition existed for such a length of time that in exercising ordinary care the premises owner should have known of the dangerous condition and taken action.

Walker, 20 Ariz. App. At 258. Basically, you have 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?

Daniel Tom, Esq.

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.

Logging Truck on Icy Winter Road

Winter Road Conditions

Logging Truck on Icy Winter Road

Northern Arizona drivers must take extra precautions when driving on icy winter roads, so not to become another statistic.

According to the National Weather Service and the Arizona Daily Sun, Northern Arizona and Flagstaff will receive its first significant snow fall starting Thursday afternoon and lasting until Saturday. The National Weather Service is predicting up to 11 inches of snow for Flagstaff, which is a welcome relief to our drought stricken region. Furthermore, many of us are looking forward to white Christmas and all the outdoor activities a good snow year will bring Flagstaff.

Safe Winter Driving

While a lot of people cannot wait to hit the slopes, the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier would like to emphasize the importance of safe winter driving. Winter weather presents dangerous and unsafe road conditions like: ice, snow and freezing weather. Combine these road conditions with drivers unfamiliar with safe winter driving and you have the perfect recipe for car accidents. Every year we hear reports of huge chain reaction car accidents severely injuring multiple people shutting down I-17 or I-40 for hours. We also see bad drivers driving too fast or following too closely because they have a 4WD car or truck. Many of our winter accidents can be prevented if drivers follow these safety tips as provided by the Arizona Department of Transportation:

Drive Carefully

  • Drive for conditions: slower speeds, slower acceleration
  • Use your headlights
  • Do not use cruise control
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you
  • Remember, the larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps and bridges
  • When driving behind a snowplow, stay back at least a few car lengths until it’s safe to pass or until the plow pulls off the road. If you think you’re traveling too close to a plow, you probably are. Be safe and stay back!
  • If approaching an oncoming snowplow, slow down and give the plow extra room
  • Reduce speed. Speed limits are based on normal road conditions, not winter road conditions.
  • Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually
  • Do not slam on brakes. Apply steady pressure on ABS-equipped vehicles and pump the brakes if necessary on non-ABS vehicles
  • Always comply with all posted chain requirements
  • Always carry tire chains, especially when traveling in mountain passes or typically snowy areas
  • Remember – 4-wheel-drive vehicles cannot necessarily turn or stop any better than 2-wheel-drive vehicles

Know What to Do in Collisions and Emergencies

  • Dial 9-1-1
  • If possible, move the vehicle out the travel lanes into a safe area
  • Attend to all medical needs in a safe place, if possible
  • If you are making arrangements to have your vehicle towed, do that in a safe location
  • If your vehicle becomes non-operational, raise the front hood to signal that it is disabled
  • Be alert to the hazards of moving traffic, especially on a slippery road surface
  • Do not stand anywhere in the travel lanes or close to your vehicle
  • The emergency lane or shoulder berm are not safe places to stand or park

Furthermore, winter conditions can also leave a lost driver or a driver involved in a car accident stranded because they cannot be located. Again, we have heard tragic stories of people who have gotten their cars stuck and froze to death when they tried to find help. To prevent a tragedy like this from happening, the Arizona Department of Transportation suggests that you plan ahead when traveling in areas with winter road conditions. Plan ahead:

  • Carry plenty of food and water and all necessary medications
  • Carry a fully charged cell phone
  • Visit or dial 5-1-1 to check for current road and weather conditions
  • Plan your travel route and allow for extra time to arrive at your destination
  • Notify someone of your travel route, destination and projected arrival time
  • Get plenty of rest before your trip and take breaks during your trip to stay alert
  • Carry an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand for traction, and hazard warning lights or reflectors

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or any other type of accident seek medical attention immediately then call the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier at (928) 774-5400. You may also email us at, or message us from our website or We handle cases inFlagstaff, Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescottand other parts of the State. Our initial consultation is free and we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we don’t get paid, unless you get paid. The goal is to settle your case with the responsible driver or his/her insurance company or employer. Should they decide not the settle, our aggressive trial attorneys will sue the responsible driver.

Many accident injury cases can be handled by our firm negotiating with the insurance company without having to file a lawsuit. We have many years of experience dealing with insurance adjusters and fighting for our clients rights. However, our car accident attorneys are also experienced trial lawyers and are able and ready to protect your rights in court. Our firm offers free consultations. In addition, we help you find the right doctors to treat your injuries.

In order to best assist us in handling your case, it is important that you have the following information: the location of the accident, the direction the vehicles were traveling, the insurance information of the person that caused the accident, your insurance information, medical treatment information, and traffic citation information. As a client, our firm will work closely with you to obtain any information you do not have, but it is important after any traffic accident to obtain as much information at the time of the crash as possible.


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