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Sidewalk Snow Removal And The Law, Edgewater Still Digging Out

Snow_Removal_1Lucky enough to escape January without any major snow accumulation, February started with a nasty one. On the first of the month we were hit with a heavy snowfall accompanied by strong winds. As both residents and businesses have worked hard to clear the snow from their sidewalks, many have not done their part.

As businesses work to bring in that much needed post-Holiday traffic into their shops, it is perplexing to see some completely ignore clear safe paths to their doorways for those customers. Area resident Joe Strunk is quite concerned about this problem, he said, “It’s frustrating to see stores along business districts who don’t shovel their snow. I have walked into three business today already asking them to please shovel their sidewalk. Of course everyone had excuses why.”

Mr. Strunk does admit that those three businesses eventually cleared the snow, but it took time and complaints to make it happen. He added,”You run a business in the neighborhood, you profit off the residents. You can make the safety of the residents your priority.”

There is a legal aspect to this as well. EVB spoke with neighborhood Lawyer Betty Tsamis of Tsamis Law. She informed us that Chicago has a snow removal ordinance that provides “every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground abutting upon any public way or public space shall remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk…”  Ms. Tsamis also included that it is not just the business’s responsibility, but also the landlord. A business operator/owner and landlord are both legally responsible for removing snow from sidewalks running in front of and/or abutting any public ways.

As Edgewater residents pass by your business or home, remember that those people will most likely include the elderly, disabled and parents with children. As a community, awareness of those that may have a more difficult time in these conditions should be a priority.

Alderman Osterman said today in a statement, “Please remember to keep sidewalks cleared in front of your residential and/or commercial properties. My office is addressing sidewalk complaints as they come to our attention. As always, our community has shown its helpful spirit, lending a hand to dig out cars and clear each others sidewalks. Thank you to all residents who have pitched in.”

Ms. Tsamis has a few legal points if any person is injured due to a violation of the ordinance:

1.     Make sure they are okay and get appropriate medical treatment;

2.     Get contact information of any witnesses;

3.     Take pictures of the location of the injury and of the front of the building abutting property;

4.     Notify the property occupant as soon as possible about the injury;

5.     Obtain necessary insurance information to make a claim for expenses you incur due to your injury; and

6.     Consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance

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