Can you file a snow complaint while it's snowing?

It's snowing, and you leave your home to take your dog for a walk. Your neighbors have not cleared their sidewalks, and you're worried that you're going to slip and fall. Can you file a complaint?

You can, but not if it's still snowing. People are not obligated to clear the walk until it stops.

Even then, they're not obligated to do it right away. Here are the three rules for when it must be done:

  • If the snow stops falling between 7:00 in the morning and 4:59 in the evening, people have four hours to clear their sidewalks.
  • If the snow stops falling between 5:00 in the evening and 8:59 that same evening, they then have 14 hours to clear the sidewalks.
  • If the snow stops falling between 9:00 in the evening and 6:59 the next morning, they have to get the snow off of the sidewalk by 11 a.m.

Within those rules, people need to get rid of all snow by fire hydrants and bus stops. On sidewalks, they need to clear it away so that there is a path that's roughly four feet wide.

As you can see, your neighbors do have a responsibility to create a clear path for you to walk, but the law recognizes that people may be at work or asleep during a storm, and there's nothing they can do. That's why they're given hours to shovel that snow out of the way.

If they still neglect to do it and the dangerous condition persists long after the snowfall ends, that's when you may be able to make a complaint. You also need to know your legal rights if you slip and fall.

Source: NYC.gov, "Snow or Ice on Sidewalks Report," accessed Jan. 18, 2018

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