According to Minnesota Walks, at least one-third of the United States population doesn’t drive. While some of those individuals who don’t are children or seniors, others have disabilities or are unable to afford their own car. They must be able to easily navigate White Bear Lake’s sidewalks to get where they need to go.
Despite the large amount of snow that Minnesota sees on an annual basis, there is no statewide sidewalk snow removal statute in place. Instead, state lawmakers have empowered different municipalities to institute codes requiring residents to keep their sidewalks free of snow and ice. Most of these ordinances require them to keep the sidewalks around their properties, bus stops and vacant lots free from ice and snow.
Few cities enforce these codes as well as they should though. While many don’t because they lack the manpower to do so, others may not do anything because they’re aware that their own city workers used their snow plows to put it there.
In other cases, cities don’t enforce the sidewalk clearing ordinances because they know that a resident is pregnant, disabled, lives alone, is ill, works a lot or is on vacation. Keeping their sidewalks clear may not be something that they can easily do.
Code enforcement workers may also be unable to keep up with changing weather patterns. While sidewalks may be easily navigable during the day after the sun melts the snow or ice, freezing temperatures may cause standing water to melt again. Since they work during the day, the conditions of the sidewalk may be fine then, but change significantly at night.
Data that captures how many property owners are sued each year for slips and falls that occur on the icy or snowy sidewalks in front of homes isn’t readily available. We can assume that lawmakers were motivated to put cleaning ordinances in place more of a responsive instead of a preventative measure though.
Slips and falls that happen on icy or snowy surfaces can leave pedestrians with bumps, cuts, bruises, broken bones and even sometimes head or traumatic brain injuries. Some of these more serious injuries can leave a person with long-term disabilities that require regular treatment as well. A personal injury attorney can advise you about the possibility of a claim.