When it comes the insufferable task of shoveling your sidewalk in the winter, what can you do?
You don’t have much of an option—it needs to be done. Otherwise, you can blow it off. Sure—but at best, you’ll get slapped with a fine and at worst, someone will slip, fall, break their leg and you’ll have to deal with a guilty conscience and a lawsuit.
This type of thing is common—and nine times out of ten, the person who neglected to shovel is going to say anything they can to get out of the mess their negligence created.
Here are some of my favorites… and why you shouldn’t believe them:
1. “Senator John Kerry doesn’t shovel his sidewalk—so I don’t have to either!”
Ok—so the first part is true. Senator John Kerry doesn’t shovel his sidewalk. But guess what is also true: Kerry was hit with a $50 fine by the city of Boston for it. You’ll be fined for this almost everywhere. Locally speaking, the borough of West Chester will take twice that amount. Find out what type of fine you may be facing at your town/county/city’s website.
2. “It literally just snowed I don’t have to shovel already.”
Yes. Yes you do. Depending on where you live at least. Every area has a specific amount of time allowed after a snowstorm, by the end of which you need to shovel. After that, you’ll be fined and you won’t stand a chance in the case of a lawsuit. In Philadelphia—it’s 4-6 hours. You can find yours, again, at your town/county/city’s website. Technically, before that time is up, this argument could hold water. But how about this: watch the weather channel, throw down some salt beforehand, and save yourself the argument altogether.
3. “You’re just a drunk! Get off of my sidewalk!”
I’m not drunk! Your slippery un-shoveled sidewalk just makes it look that way! If this is your response—you’d better be sure that it’s true because if you really are drunk, then it could be turned around as your fault. Do you have a reliable witness? Photographic evidence? Good. You’ve got yourself a case.
4. “Oh—you fell here… too bad that sidewalk isn’t mine. It’s public property! You shovel it!”
Wrong again. If it wasn’t on the street, then it’s somebody’s property—and somebody is going to have to compensate for the injury their negligence caused. The obligation is especially true for commercial property owners in busy areas. Are they blaming a landlord? Demand to see a lease. That’s where it’ll be written if the renter is responsible for clearing the sidewalk. If not—you’re going to need the landlord’s information.
5. “Sue for what?!” *Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V voice* “I don’t have any money! You couldn’t sue me if you tried! Ha!”
If you’re seriously injured on someone else’s property someone’s going to pay. Sorry Balboa. The majority of homeowners are going to have homeowners insurance—at least they’re going to hope they do because the insurance company is going to be the one footing the bill.
Bottom line: don’t be lazy. Shovel your sidewalk. And if you get caught up in a slippery situation because someone hasn’t—you know who to call.