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Uncleared sidewalks are hazardous conditions after snow storms

A quick look out the window will let our neighbors in Washington, District of Columbia, know that winter is upon us. The frosty sideways and snowbanks are something that makes some people smile and others groan. Those sidewalks are also a source of work for anyone who owns a property and some who rent a property in our city. Because of codes in the DC Municipal Code, these people are responsible for making sure that the sidewalks and walkways on their property are clear.

Who has to clear sidewalks in DC?

All property owners and some renters are responsible for clearing the sidewalks. According to DC Code, 2001 Ed., § 9-604 says that municipal, federal, commercial and residential property owners are all responsible to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks on their property. This is extended to single-family renters and those who have snow removal responsibilities listed in their rental agreement. Additionally, any ADA-curb ramps on the property must be cleared.

When does snow have to be cleared?

Snow must be cleared within eight daylight hours after the snow storm or ice storm ends. If the sidewalk can't be shoveled safely or without causing damage to the sidewalk, sand or salt can be spread over the area. Remember to wear reflective clothing or light-colored clothing if you head out in the dark to clear the sidewalks.

Is there a penalty for not clearing the sidewalks?

According to DC Code, 2001 Ed., § 9-606, there is a $25 fine for not clearing the sidewalk. The responsible party could also be sued for the cost of clearing the sidewalk if the District has to do it.

Everyone should be able to understand why clearing the sidewalks is so important. Slippery sidewalks are a danger to anyone who is walking. If you are injured in a slip-and-fall on someone's property because they failed to clear that sidewalk, you can seek compensation for your injuries.

Source: DC.gov, "Shovel Your Sidewalk" accessed Mar. 01, 2015

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