Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow—but then, shovel your walkways. If you live in Chicago and aren’t shoveling your walkways, you could face a fine from the city—but more importantly, you could be held liable if someone slips and gets injured on your un-cleared sidewalks.  Don’t open yourself up to a lawsuit just because you wanted to stay warm inside—make sure to clear your walkways this winter.

Chicago Snow Removal Guidelines

Whether or not your neighbors adhere strictly to the guidelines should be irrelevant—if it snows, make sure to take care of your own property. Don’t count on local police to remain apathetic about the municipal codes. Instead, sprinkle salt to start the melting process to make shoveling snow easier. Some of Chicago’s snow removal guidelines are more specific than you might think. For instance:

  • If snow stops falling by 4 p.m., you have three hours to clear the walkways, except on Sundays.
  • If snow stops falling after 4 p.m. or on Sunday, walkways need to be cleared by 10 a.m.
  • City code requires homeowners and property owners to clear a five-foot path along the sidewalk where conditions allow, so pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, and individuals with assisted mobility devices may travel easily.
  • Snow may not be shoveled: around fire hydrants, into alleys, blocking sidewalks, into the street, covering crosswalks.

What Happens to Homeowners or Business Owners Who Do Not Comply? 

Homeowners who do not comply with the guidelines for snow removal may be fined $50, while businesses may face fines between $250-500—per day. Furthermore, if someone slips on your property, falls, and gets hurt, they can hire a personal injury lawyer and come after you for neglecting to follow city code and, in turn, causing their injury. Don’t let that happen—keep everyone safe this winter by shoveling and salting your driveway and walkways.

If you notice someone has not shoveled their walkways and you feel it may be a danger, you can call 311 and report locations that have not cleared the snow, and Chicago also offers Snow Corp Volunteers to seniors and residents with disabilities—people who otherwise cannot perform snow removal on their own. This can also be dispatched by calling 311.