Snowstorms cause a lot of traffic accidents for motorists across Spokane every winter. Unfortunately, frozen precipitation creates hazards for those on foot as well.
Pedestrians often have to walk on sidewalks that are no longer visible thanks to frozen precipitation. It’s a slip-and-fall hazard that may stick around for weeks. Pedestrians might also be forced out into the street to find safe footing and then be at risk of getting struck by a car or SUV.
It’s no surprise that injured pedestrians are often forced to wonder who is responsible for shoveling sidewalks in Spokane and who can be held legally accountable if someone gets hurt.
The Property Owner’s Responsibility for Clearing Snow from Sidewalks
KHQ-TV reports that the City of Spokane requires all property owners to clear a 36-inch path on sidewalks around their residences, businesses, and properties. This must be accomplished by 9 a.m. on the morning after a snowstorm.
After a complaint against a property owner, the city issues two warnings. After a third issue, the property owner is supposed to face a fine of around 100 dollars. A city spokesperson admits that the citations are rarely issued. The city blames a lack of resources for the problem.
Uncleared snow becomes a major safety issue for everyone who travels the city on foot. Those walking dogs, delivering packages, and others might suffer painful falls. The hardened snow is especially challenging for those with disabilities who depend on stable, dry surfaces to get around.
So, Spokane property owners may or may not get into trouble for letting snow build up on sidewalks, but can they be held liable for recovery costs for those that get hurt?
Sidewalk Accident Liability for Spokane Pedestrian Accidents
According to CCD Law’s Pedestrian Accident Lawyers, a homeowner is usually the least likely person to face liability in a pedestrian accident. They are also the least likely to be forced to provide compensation to victims. However, there are circumstances where a homeowner could be held liable and any case is worth investigating in a free consultation with a local attorney.
CCD Law’s legal representatives find that victims get better results when local businesses, apartment complexes, and city departments, like a school, are included in insurance claims. This allows victims a better chance to prove negligence when it comes to shoveling sidewalks. Victims are able to seek compensation for injuries and hospital recovery.
Of course, if negligence on the part of the City of Spokane is responsible for your accident, a pedestrian accident lawyer will be ready to file a lawsuit against the city. Keep in mind that filing a claim against city or county government usually comes with a shorter deadline than other personal injury claims. It’s critical to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible to begin putting a strong case together that is backed by evidence and can meet important time restrictions.
A skilled Spokane Pedestrian Accident Lawyer will help you identify the at-fault parties in your accident. Your lawyer could end up filing claims against several insurance companies on your behalf, even against a careless driver.
Liability for Drivers Who Hit Spokane Pedestrians Walking in Snow
When pedestrians must venture out into the street to avoid piled-up snow on sidewalks, they may be able to sue more than one party if they get hurt. Just as in pedestrian accidents at any time of year, drivers are legally responsible when they strike those on foot under most circumstances.
Drivers in Washington must show vulnerable pedestrians a special “duty of care.” That means monitoring for people on foot at all times. That means motorists slow down at the first sight of a pedestrian in the street, enough to prevent a collision. This is a responsibility even if the pedestrian isn’t in a crosswalk. The pedestrian may be breaking the law, but drivers must still observe this legal duty to keep them safe.
This duty applies to any situation that forces a pedestrian into the street, such as coming to a sidewalk that’s a snow-filled mess. Drivers are supposed to slow down to prevent a collision. When they don’t, injured victims may file a claim to secure support for things like paying medical bills and replacing the paychecks the victim misses while away from work.
Motorists also have increased responsibility on slick roads. They must travel at speeds safe for the conditions. This means going slow enough to avoid sliding into a pedestrian when braking.
A Word for Wintertime Pedestrian Accident Victims in Spokane…
Pedestrians face traffic dangers as they walk Spokane in the best of weather. Those hazards only multiply when snow covers local sidewalks and blocks safe passage.
Pedestrians injured in slip-and-fall accidents on unshoveled sidewalks or who get struck by cars while avoiding a snowy path should never face recovery costs alone. There are benefits available to anyone hurt in pedestrian accidents. You can read more about the options pedestrians have after getting hurt on the CCD Law Personal Injury page.