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House freezing iceAs a homeowner, it is your responsibility to verify your property is safe for all visitors and guests. In the wintertime this means you must ensure your driveway and sidewalks are cleared of ice and snow at all times. You will be held legally responsible if any one of these three conditions is met when someone is hurt at your home:
  • You created a dangerous condition.
  • You were aware of the dangerous condition but didn't fix it.
  • You should have been aware of the dangerous condition.
Consider these tips when it comes to keeping your driveway and sidewalk clear of snow and ice.

Take it Seriously

Everyone has days when they are in a rush or times when they figure it isn't worthwhile to clear the snow because it is just going to snow again tomorrow. However, if someone is injured on your property you cannot use these as excuses. Keeping your property safe must be taken seriously. If you are physically unable to handle it yourself, hire someone who will do it for you.

Look for Trouble Spots

Do you have a downspout that causes ice to form in a certain location? Always check this area if weather conditions are right for ice. Does the snow plow tend to cause a buildup at the end of your driveway? Make sure you shovel it first. Look for large icicles hanging down over a walkway and knock them down.

Being Out of Town is Not an Excuse

If you will be out of town, you need to arrange for someone else to keep your driveway and sidewalks clear and safe. Being away from home during the winter is not an acceptable excuse.

You Do Have Some Time Though

Don't fret that you must run out and start clearing the snow as soon as the first flake lands on your driveway. Each city has a different ordinance indicating the amount of time you have to clear sidewalks and other walkways of snow and ice. Twenty-four hours is typical, but you should check with your own municipality to find out your local ordinances. If you don't have your walkways cleared in the allotted time period, you may be fined.

If you do not properly maintain your walkways and someone is injured, your homeowners insurance may cover the unintentional injury. However, if your insurance policy isn't large enough to cover the entire claim, you may end up paying for the remainder of the expenses out of pocket. Before the snow starts, determine if you will be able to ensure your walkways are clear or if you should hire someone else to take care of it for you so you avoid this potential liability issue.

Keep your property safe. Call Auto Insurers of Virginia at (804) 379-2697 for more information on Richmond home insurance.
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