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Snow removal and Illinois landowners

While the weather may have been slightly warmer of late, Chicago-area landowners must bear in mind that they have ongoing obligations to promptly clear their driveways, parking lots and sidewalks of snow and ice. Failing to do so creates a hazardous condition, as members of the public can easily slip and hurt themselves on icy pavements.

When a person slips and falls because an owner or occupier of land failed to promptly remove snow and ice from a sidewalk or other paved area, the injured party may have a lawsuit against that property owner. Owners and others living in private homes and apartments, however, have some protection under Illinois law from getting sued for failure to remove ice and snow from around their home or apartment.

Because the State of Illinois wants people who own homes or other dwellings at least to try to clear their sidewalks, the law provides that a person will not be held accountable if he or she makes an honest effort at removing snow and ice but just misses a spot or two which someone happens to slip on. In order to get this protection, the landowner has to remove, or try to remove, the snow and ice from the sidewalk.

There are some important limits to this legal protection, however. For one, the law does nothing to protect an owner from what the law calls "willful or wanton" misconduct, meaning basically the owner has to act in good faith when clearing the sidewalks. More importantly, the protection of this law applies only to "sidewalks" alongside "residential property."

Businesses still have to clear their sidewalks well enough so people do not slip, and all property owners still have to keep their guests from slipping on patios, driveways and other areas where people may reasonably be expected to walk. Failing in this obligation could mean an injured guest has the right to seek compensation from the negligent landowner.

  1. "Committed To My Cause"

    I was struck by a car while cycling and severely, almost fatally injured. A team of excellent medical professionals performed complicated and extensive surgical and medical procedures as part of a successful effort to restore my health....
    -Jeff D.

  2. "Could not have made a better choice"

    We found Mark [Mathys] through the web after an auto accident in October 2011. While selecting someone you don't know to represent you can be a gamble, we could not have made a better choice....
    - Dave

  3. "Very satisfied"

    Mark [Mathys] is very professional. He responds almost immediately, via email, to any question, comment or concern I have and if he is not able to respond right away, he will let me know. I have been very satisfied with Mark so far and I am happy to be his client.
    -Jennifer

  4. "Easy to talk to"

    Mr. Mathys and Mr. Schneid were very professional and easy to talk to. Prior to working with them, my wife and I had no real experience with the legal system beyond a house closing, yet Mr. Mathys and Mr. Schneid explained the whole process to us very well. I knew that whenever I had a concern about our case or the legal system in general I could call their office or send an email and receive answers the same day... -Larry

  5. "Provided very wise advice"

    I've dealt with attorneys on a variety of issues, almost all of them since leaving college and entering the workplace. Mr. Mathys was the first attorney I had any real experience with, and I was impressed then and remain so. He provided very wise advice and always kept me informed. In the end, he delivered a favorable result. I recommend him highly.
    - Tyler D.

  6. "In-depth knowledge of the law"

    Mark [Schneid] is an excellent and skilled attorney and demonstrated in-depth knowledge of the law when he helped settle my dog bite lawsuit resulting from a traumatic incident. He explained what was needed of me and how I should handle the situation in a professional manner.
    - Karen K.

  7. "They went to bat for me"

    Not long ago I was involved in a car accident where I was hit by a gravel truck at an intersection. After I called Mathys & Schneid, even though I didn't have a very large case, they made me feel like I was one of their most important cases. They went to bat for me with the trucking company's insurance and got me a settlement. I would definitely recommend them to my family and friends. -Dan H.

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