The Duty of A Homeowner to Remove Ice and Snow

There are many things to dislike about a Canadian winter. Heading outside to shovel or salt your driveway isn’t much fun when the temperature is -20. In fact, it isn’t much fun on even the nicest winter day.

If you fail to shovel and salt your driveway or walkway you are putting yourself at risk. The risk extends beyond upsetting your spouse. If someone suffers a serious injury because of a slip and fall on your snow packed and icy driveway or walkway you might get sued.

You have a legal duty to keep people visiting your property safe. This duty is set out in a statute called the Occupiers’ Liability Act. This law says that the “occupier” of a property is liable if he or she fails to take reasonable care to keep visitors safe. Both homeowners and tenants may be occupiers of property. Reasonable care means that you must take the steps that a reasonably prudent homeowner or tenant would take. If you leave your driveway and walkways icy, without taking any steps to make them less hazardous, you will not meet the standard of reasonable care.

The best way to protect yourself from economic ruin caused by a lawsuit against you is to have adequate insurance. Your homeowners’ or tenants’ insurance policy will respond to claims arising from slips and falls on your property. However, if your insurance limits are inadequate to cover the claim, your personal assets will be at risk. It is a good idea to speak with your broker to add additional liability insurance. It is often surprisingly cheap to increase your insurance limits.

About the Authors

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Troy Lehman joined Oatley Vigmond in 2006 and became a partner in 2010. As a personal injury lawyer, his greatest satisfaction comes from helping people through to the other side of a difficult time in their lives. “We’re here to help and relieve stress,” Troy says. “When I walk into a first meeting with a client, people are often scared and anxious. And for me, the best thing that can happen at the end of the meeting is that they say, ‘I feel so much better.’

To learn more about Troy, please click here.