Can you be sued for clearing snow and ice?
You can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully. The basic rule of thumb is “is this what a reasonable person would do?”
How to clear snow and ice
When you clear snow and ice:
- do it early in the day – it’s easier to move fresh, loose snow
- don’t use water – it might refreeze and turn to black ice
- use salt if possible – it will melt the ice or snow and stop it from refreezing overnight (but don’t use the salt from salting bins as this is used to keep roads clear). You may prefer not to use salt on your garden paths as run-off can adversely affect some plants.
- you can use ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt – it will provide grip underfoot. Cat litter can also be useful for this.
- pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways – using more salt may help
If you are an employer, you must ensure that any staff you send out to clear ice and snow have the correct clothing and equipment.
What if a disability prevents you from getting out to clear the paths? Again, this comes back to that basic of “is this what a reasonable person would do?” You cannot reasonably expect someone to put themselves at risk if they are physically or mentally (one of my neighbours has severe agoraphobia and cannot leave their home) capable.
Living in the vicinity of other people is easy – really it is. Just be sensible. I have a friend who was a very senior police traffic officer. His comment on the Highway Code was that it needed to be scrapped and replaced with three words, “Don’t be daft”. Much the same applies to clearing ice and snow from paths and pavements.