Weather Center

The Slippery Slope of Ice Liabilities

By Mary O. Parker 1.26.16

When winter brings icy weather, protect yourself — and others — by keeping an eye out for hazardous conditions.

’Tis especially the season for slippery steps and sidewalks. Each year, ice-related slips and falls injure more Texans than any other cold-weather condition.

But you won’t find all wintery hazards under foot. Look up for dangerously dangling icicles and roof-top snow piles. These could cause injury by falling on unsuspecting pedestrians below.

What’s water now may freeze later and generate unsafe icy spots. With that in mind, aim downspout drainage away from walkways and double-check that debris doesn’t clog up your gutters. Also, look for leaking pipes and other areas where water may pool.

In 2010, the Supreme Court of Texas determined that property owners aren’t liable for ice or snow accumulation that occurs naturally. However, in case of injury, your diligent attempts to eliminate hazards can still play a key role in determining responsibility.

Remove snow and ice from walkways, doorsteps, and anywhere else it may pose a danger. Many cities have codes that require such clearing to be completed within a certain amount of time; but even if your city does not, it’s still a good idea to take immediate steps to alleviate risks.

If another’s wintery activities damage your property, their homeowners insurance policy may provide restitution. Joe Rivera, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent based in Moore County, says that when outdoor play by minors goes astray — e.g., overthrown snowballs and runaway sleds — the personal liability coverage included in the parents’ homeowners policy could cover the damage.

Second home? Vacation home? Lake house? Keep your home away from home in tiptop shape this winter with these crucial winterizing tips.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2016 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance