Do You Have to Clear Snow From Sidewalks in Hampton Roads?
Days after last week’s blizzard hit Hampton Roads, thick and hazardous snow remains on many sidewalks and roads. It’s a danger to drivers and walkers alike. After such a major winter weather event, many people ask whether they have to clear snow from sidewalks in Hampton Roads.
Not everyone realizes you do have a legal obligation to clear snow from sidewalks in Hampton Roads unless you live in the City of Chesapeake. City codes say all homeowners and business should clear snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes or premises.
If somebody trips and falls outside your home, they are unlikely to have much success in bringing a lawsuit. However, a business can be sued if somebody is injured on ice or snow that should have been cleared outside the premises. Business owners have an obligation to provide a safe environment for those who visit their premises.
In theory, Hampton Roads homeowners and businesses face fines for failing to clear snow. However, cities offered clemency in the wake of the recent blizzard, reported the Virginian-Pilot.
Where You Must Clear Snow From Sidewalks in Hampton Roads
In Norfolk and Portsmouth, homeowners are meant to clear up snow from sidewalks three hours of the snowfall stopping, or by 11 a.m. if it didn’t stop until late in the day or overnight.
In Virginia Beach, the ordinance is more relaxed. It says snow should be cleared within six hours of the time when it would be reasonable to get out and shovel it.
In Suffolk, residents also get six hours to remove snow from sidewalks outside their homes. A violation can lead to a fine of no more than $5 a day.
In the City of Hampton, on the Virginia Peninsula, all walkways and sidewalks must be cleared of snow or ice by a homeowner or the occupant within three hours after the snow stopped falling or by 9 a.m. if the snowfall happened overnight.
The Pilot report revealed cities will not rigorously enforce their ordinances in the wake of the recent snowfall. In Norfolk, spokeswoman Lori Crouch confirmed the city will not be enforcing the ordinance, which dates from 1958.
Portsmouth won’t be fining anyone either, although residents are encouraged to clear their sidewalks when able, said city spokeswoman Dana Woodson.
Chesapeake is the only Hampton Roads city that lacks a snow clearing ordinance.
The snow event led to hundreds of crashes in Hampton Roads. Virginia State Police reported 138 crashes in the Hampton Roads region from 8 p.m. Wednesday through 4 p.m. Thursday. There were a further 288 reports of disabled vehicles.
Frigid temperatures meant the snow remained on sidewalks and on many roads into the weekend. While major roads were plowed, residential streets remained treacherous in Hampton Roads.
If you end up stranded on the side of the road, officials say you should not call a tow truck unless it’s an absolute emergency. Dispatchers were flooded with 911 calls for stranded vehicles over the last few days, noted WAVY.com.
Drivers should be aware of pedestrians who were not able to get out of their neighborhoods walking down roads. Please leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you, and look out for pedestrians.
Despite the bad conditions, many drivers are still traveling too fast on icy roads. If you have been hurt in a crash caused by another driver, please call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077.