Snow Hazard

Date: March 10, 2010
Posted In: DLP Law

The area had just sustained two large snowstorms in less than one week. The state and local authorities had performed well in removing the snow, but there were large piles everywhere immediately adjacent to the road.

Kelly pulled up to an intersection, but because of the amount of snow that had been piled at the corner, she had a very difficult time ascertaining whether or not it was safe to pull onto the main highway. She found herself having to pull out well beyond the stop sign, exposing the front of her car. As she slowly edged out into the road, unfortunately the front passenger side of her car was clipped by a vehicle which she was never able to see coming. The other driver, who had the right of way, claimed that she never saw Kelly\’s car until it was well onto the road.

QUESTION

Kelly felt that she should not be at fault since there was nothing she could do to avoid the accident. Kelly felt if anything, the municipality that was in charge of the snow removal should be responsible.

ANSWER

Both the state and local municipalities are not responsible in situations like this. For artificially created hazards that might occur as a result of the moving and removing of snow. The governmental units enjoy sovereign immunity in cases such as this. As a basic rule, this immunity applies to artificially created situations on a road, but would not apply if they were negligent construction or design of a road.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.