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Are You Liable for Not Shoveling Your Sidewalk?

With the harshest months of winter ahead of us here in Portland, it is important to be prepared for frigid temperatures, freezing rain, and the potential for snow accumulations. Unfortunately, these types of conditions often lead to an increase in accidents and injuries. Icy, snow-covered sidewalks and wet, slippery entranceways increase the likelihood of slip-and-fall accidents, which can leave victims with serious and even disabling injuries. When these accidents occur in residential neighborhoods, homeowners can be held personally liable for the damages that result.

Winter Slip and Fall Accidents

The National Safety Council reports that falls are one of the most common causes of accidental injury in the U.S., impacting as many as 2.5 million older adults each year. One of the most common places for these injuries to occur is in and around the home as the result of causes that are, in most cases, preventable. You can help protect yourself, your family members, and guests to your home against winter slip and fall accidents by taking the following precautions:   

  • Shovel sidewalks, driveways, and entrances regularly;
  • Prevent icy spots on walkways by using a deicing agent;
  • Make sure pathways are clear of debris and clutter;
  • Repair any broken or uneven pavers;
  • Make sure handrails are properly installed and secure;
  • Use fencing around decks and elevated areas;
  • On porches and indoor entranceways to your home, use non-skid matting to prevent slips on wet surfaces.

Liability for Injuries That Occur In and Around Your Home

Under the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS 105. 668-688) property owners can be held personally liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on their premises. In a personal injury lawsuit, the injured party would be required to prove the property owner was negligent, in that they knew or should have known that a potentially dangerous condition existed on the property and did nothing to fix it or to warn guests about the conditions.

In addition to personal liability, injured guests may also be entitled to compensation through a claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy. The Insurance Information Institute advises that most policies include general liability coverage, in the event a guest is injured due to your negligence, and no fault medical liability coverage, which covers medical expenses for injuries to guests regardless of who is responsible. In addition to making sure sidewalks are clear of ice or snow, you can help avoid accidents in your home or on your property by taking the following precautions:

  • Make sure tree branches and bushes are properly trimmed;
  • Securely restrain any animals you own when guests come to visit;
  • Check that shelving or cabinetry in your home is firmly attached;
  • Use non-skid runners and handrails on stairs.  

Reach Out to Us for Help Today

If you are involved in a dispute over injuries that occurred on your property, contact our Portland civil liability attorney today.  At the Johnston Law Firm, we provide the aggressive legal representation you need to defend your interest, while ensuring your rights are protected. We serve Portland and the surrounding areas; call or contact our office online today for a free consultation.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.