Winter snow removal is a hassle, and the last thing you want to do on a frigid Saturday morning is shovel your sidewalk and driveway. In most municipalities, you have a responsibility to shovel the sidewalk in front of your home. It’s no fun, but it’s important. It’s certainly tempting to ignore the sidewalk, but foregoing snow removal could have serious consequences.
Your Legal Obligations
In many regions with cold, snowy winters, you have a legal obligation to handle snow removal from the sidewalk in front of your home. This is usually determined by either state law or local law, depending on where you live.
In Boulder County, all residents or owners of private property must remove snow on their sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall. This is part of the local codes, and violations are handled by the county’s Code Enforcement Unit. If your property is adjacent to a primary snow route, it’s asked that you wait until after the snow plows have come by before you shovel your sidewalk. The snow you remove must remain on your property, and you cannot put it onto any street, sidewalk, or alley.
If you fail to comply with the snow removal ordinance, you can receive a municipal summons, or an abatement. The abatement includes the county calling in a private snow removal contractor, for which you will be charged both the cost of the snow removal, and a $50 administrative fee. You can also receive a fine of $100 for a first offense. For subsequent offenses, the maximum penalty is a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail. Yes, you can theoretically get jail time for failing to shovel your sidewalk!
Liability Issues: You Could Be Sued for Damages
Municipal ordinances and fines aren’t the only reasons you need to shovel the snow off of your sidewalk. Leaving it there could also put you at risk of liability for damages if someone were to slip and fall.
If there’s a slip and fall accident on your sidewalk, and you haven’t removed the snow, you can be sued for quite a bit of money. It’s considered a form of negligence. People have been sued for as much as $300,000 for negligence in cases where someone slipped and fell on a snow-covered sidewalk.
What If I’m a Renter?
In Boulder County, it is the property owner who is responsible for sidewalk snow removal. This applies to single-family dwellings, as well as apartment complexes and commercial properties.
The IceBusters Program for Disabled & Senior Citizens
If you can’t shovel your own snow due to age or a disability, and you don’t have the money to hire snow removal contractors, Boulder County has a volunteer program called IceBusters. This program provides volunteer workers who will shovel the snow for you, at no cost for those who cannot pay. There is a suggested one time donation of $50 or $100, but this is completely optional.
You Need Sidewalk Snow Removal — But You Don’t Have To Handle It Yourself
You can’t just let the snow pile up on your sidewalk. Not only is it in violation of local Boulder County ordinances, but it’s a huge legal risk. However, you don’t have to shovel it yourself. At General Services Corporation, we provide professional snow removal services throughout Boulder County. We’re available for snow plowing, sidewalk cleaning, ice control, and snow removal and hauling. To find out more, or to schedule snow removal for your property, call us any time.