Subtitle: 
Small businesses in Colorado are not responsible for injuries on public sidewalks next to their buildings if the injuries occur from natural causes (like snow accumulation).

 On July 23, 2009, a Colorado court decided that Acqua Pazza, a Boulder restaurant, was not liable for injuries to a person who fell on a patch of ice on a public sidewalk next to the restaurant. Acqua Pazza leased the space from the building owner.

Important Tip While it is good business practice to remove snow, ice and debris from public sidewalks around your business, it is not legally required if it results from natural conditions

The patch of ice formed after water dripped from an awning and froze on the sidewalk.

The Court ruled that an owner or occupant of buildings has no common law duty to keep public sidewalks abutting its building free of naturally accumulated snow and ice.

In this case, the court had to decide if the same rule applies when the awning, which is not a natural condition, was involved. Because the restaurant owner did not control, construct or maintain the awning, the court found that the restaurant had no duty to clear the ice hazard. Note that the building owner who controlled the awning did pay damages to the injured person.

The Court also discussed a Boulder ordinance that prohibits owners or occupants of buildings from causing or permitting water to flow on any sidewalk or street in such weather conditions that could turn the water to ice. Since the water came from melting snow rather than the restaurant’s discharge of water onto the sidewalk, the court also found no liability under this ordinance.

 

Additional Information
Important Tip: 
While it is good business practice to remove snow, ice and debris from public sidewalks around your business, it is not legally required if it results from natural conditions
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liability claims