Tread Lightly this Winter- Your snow removal responsibility in Rhode Island

As slippery conditions ensue, we all dread the added time and expense it takes to remedy the snowy and icy conditions. In Rhode Island, homeowners and business owners are responsible fIcy-Road-Crash-300x75or proper snow and ice removal in a reasonable amount of time. The term “reasonable” is defined differently in each city and town. We must take responsibility for appropriate snow and ice removal or prepare to face a fine. Or worse, face a personal injury of your own or a slip and fall lawsuit due to an injury that occurred on your personal or business property.

Rhode Island Grants Individual Powers to Cities & Towns

Rhode Island grants power to individual city and town councils pertaining to snow removal. Each city and town may make their own ordinances relating to the maintenance and removal of ice and snow from streets, sidewalks, steps, awnings, and other structures provided the regulations do not conflict with Rhode Island state laws. Each town or city must, at its own expense, keep state roads within its limits, sufficiently clear of snow and ice so the roads are reasonably safe for travel.

RI Gen L § 24-7-1 Power of towns to establish and regulate sidewalks

RI Gen L § 24-8-15 Snow and ice removal – Notice of defects

Requirements for Property Owners in Rhode Island

Below is a sampling of snow and ice removal requirements for various Rhode Island cities and towns pertaining to sidewalks intended for pedestrian use. Variations are from 4 hours to 72 hours, depending on the city or town.

City of Providence 

The City of Providence requires all property owners to remove snow within 8 hours of daylight after the end of the snowfall, or face a fine of up to $500.

City of Providence Sec. 23-13. – Removal of snow—Required.

City of Warwick 

Snow and ice must be removed within 72 hours of the last snowfall, or face a fine of up to $175.

City of Warwick Sec. 70-102. – Removal of snow required.

City of Pawtucket 

Snow and ice must be removed not later than the first 12 hours of daylight after the end of a snowstorm. Violations are subject to fines beginning at $25 for a first offense.

City of Pawtucket ARTICLE VI. Snow and Ice Removal

City of Newport

Snow and ice must be removed within 5 hours of daylight after the snow has ceased.

City of Newport Snow Removal ordinance

City of East Providence

Snow and ice must be removed within 4 hours of daylight after snow has ceased. Fines will ensue for each hour after the 4 hour window has expired.

City of East Providence City Ordinance 14-40

City of Cranston 

Snow and ice removal must be done within 24 hours after any snow has ceased to fall. Fines will ensue for each hour after the 24 hour window has expired. Failure of a business to remove snow and ice within the 24 hour timeframe will result in a fine from $250 to $500.

City of Cranston Chapter 12.16 – SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL

Snow Removal on State Roads and State Highways

Snow and ice removal from state roads are the responsibility of the town or city in which they are located and state highways are the responsibility of the Department of Transportation.

Removal of Snow from Vehicles

Rhode Island Law states that “no person shall drive any motor vehicle with any significant amounts of snow or ice upon the vehicle. The term “significant” is construed as any amount of accumulation which might be reasonably expected, when blowing off the vehicle while driving, to obscure the vision of an operator of another vehicle. However, the natural accumulation of snow while driving during adverse weather conditions shall not constitute a violation of this section.” Violations are subject to fines.

RI Gen L §31-23-16 Windshield and window stickers – Obstructions to clear view – Snow and ice on vehicle.

Fines for Violators

In most cases, the City or Town Police Department and/or Department of Public Works enforce the snow and ice removal rules. First time violators may receive a warning depending on the town. Fines for repeat offenses range from $25 to $500. Many cities & towns provide exemptions to this rule. Eligible residents may prove hardship by providing appropriate disability or age documentation and receive assistance for snow and ice removal from their property.

Prepare ahead

Its winter in Rhode Island and we know the protocol each year. Watch the weather forecast and allow yourself extra commute time as well as extra time for proper snow removal, or have staff on call at your business to do this important task. By being prepared ahead with shovels and plenty of salt or sand, and allotting extra time for shoveling or a plow service, it can make this requirement less of a nuisance and hopefully avoid the risk of a personal injury, or an unfortunate slip and fall lawsuit.

If a slip and fall lawsuit results, things get a lot more serious. Slip & fall accidents can occur at private homes, as well as schools, malls, grocery stores, restaurants, construction sites, and more. Myriads of injuries can occur from a slip and fall accident ranging from minor or major personal injury to wrongful death. Senior citizens are more susceptible to, and slower to recover from, injuries to due to a fall on ice. Slippery weather conditions are also a major cause of car accidents involving personal injury or fatalities.

If you have been injured in a car accident or slip and fall accident due to the improper removal of snow and ice at a home or business, you need help now. Do not delay. Take pictures of the site where you were injured and inform the home or business owner. Contact a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer. Tapalian Law has extensive experience with slip and fall accidents and we can help you. Call Attorney David Tapalian 24/7 at 401-552-5000 or use our confidential online contact form to see how we can help you.

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