snow removal liabilityWinter often brings with it snowstorms and ice that can create hazardous conditions for people walking on sidewalks and driveways. If you own a home, you have a responsibility to remove snow and take reasonable steps to protect people from injury on your property. Failing to do so can make you financially liable for damages.

Check with your city, town, or homeowner’s association to find out what your responsibilities are when it comes to snow removal. You should be able to find out whether you are required to remove snow from your sidewalk and driveway and how long you have to do it after the snow falls. If you fail to comply with these requirements, you may receive a ticket and fine. If you rent your home, check your lease or ask your landlord if you are responsible for removing snow after a storm.

You should always take steps to make your property reasonably safe for others. This means shoveling snow and spreading sand, salt, or cat litter on an icy sidewalk or driveway so people do not slip and fall. Taking these steps can reduce your liability and the amount of financial risk you face. If someone gets injured on your property and you took reasonable steps to make it safe, it may be harder for the person to make a case against you in court.

If someone gets injured on your property, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the person’s medical bills and other expenses, such as lost wages. It will only cover losses up to a predetermined amount you chose when you took out the policy. If the person’s costs exceed that amount, your may be financially responsible for the difference. Homeowners insurance can also cover your legal fees.

An umbrella policy can protect you if the amount of a lawsuit exceeds the value of your homeowners insurance policy. An umbrella policy kicks in after the homeowners insurance policy has been exhausted and offers coverage up to a specified limit. Talk to your insurance agent about your homeowners insurance coverage and whether you should also take out an umbrella policy for extra protection.