Snow Removal

With all the recent storms, a quick primer on snow removal is always good. In Connecticut, the law provides that in the absence of “unusual circumstances,” a property owner “may await the end of a storm and a reasonable time thereafter before removing ice and snow from outside walks and steps.” Kraus v. Newton, 211 Conn. 191, 197-98 (1989). However, how are those terms defined? Our appellate courts have offered little guidance in this area. They have established that in deciding whether circumstances are unusual, a trial court may not take into consideration the property-owning status (i.e., either commercial or residential) of the defendant-landlord. See, e.g., Sinert v. Olympia & York Devp’t Co., 38 Conn. App. 844, 849-50 (1995). Moreover, at least one court has determined that freezing temperatures and rain ongoing at the time of a slip-and-fall constitute an ongoing storm. See, e.g., Leon v. DeJesus, 123 Conn. App. 574, 578 (2010). It appears, however, that factual questions such as those noted above should, for the most part, be submitted to the jury for its deliberation and consideration. See Kraus, 211 Conn. at 198. So when should the snow and ice be cleared from your property? The long answer: At a reasonable time after the owner reasonably determines that the storm that created the snow and ice needing to be removed has ended. The short answer: Before someone slips and falls!