About one year ago police in Bound Brook, NJ stopped two high school students from shoveling snow in their neighborhood. The reason? They needed a permit to offer such services around town. Amazingly enough, the police were not wrong in this situation. The kids legally could not operate without the proper municipal permits, which would cost them many times the amount they would have earned from actually doing the job. Of course this caused a serious uproar in the community, which eventually made it all the way up to the state legislature. This brings us up to the present, where Governor Chris Christie just signed a law removing the rather dubious restriction.
So, amateur snow removers rejoice! You can now go back to fleecing your neighbors for sidewalk shoveling services.
But, property owners should beware. Whether your use a couple of kids from around the block or your own two hands, snow shoveling doesn’t come without its risks. In fact, simply being a nice guy and removing snow accumulation from your section of sidewalk can get your in serious legal trouble. That is because while most commercial property owners are required to maintain the sidewalks that are abutting their property, homeowners are not. This means if someone slips and falls on a section of icy public sidewalk, most residential property owners are not responsible for the damages.
However, as stated by New Jersey law, you could be found liable if in removing the snow you create a new hazard – such as a thin sheet of ice. Should someone fall on this new hazard that you created, they could hold you accountable. Before hiring that team of teenagers down the street to clear your sidewalk, think about how thorough of a job they are going to do and whether it is worth the risk.
For addition information about slip and fall accidents, be sure to contact the personal injury team at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. You can reach us at (609) 240-0040.