Why Is It Important To Remove Leaves From Your Sidewalk?

Fall is here in Oregon.  The nights are cooler, the days are shorter, and the leaves are changing colors.  Many trees are also losing their leaves creating a colorful landscape carpeting lawns and sidewalks.  However, this year we have had record rainfall.   Many of these leaves have become slimy mess blanketing roads, sidewalks, and lawns.   Many people rake the leaves up because they get tracked into the house, and it is also pretty fun for kids.  However the number one reason you should remove leaves is leaves can create a fall hazard for people walking or running on sidewalks and driveways. That is why in most cities the law requires people to remove leaves from their sidewalk.  Yes, that is correct if you don't remove leaves from the sidewalk then you may be breaking your city's or county's laws.      

Many Oregon cities and counties have rules obligating property owners to remove leaves and other debris from the sidewalks and driveways.  If the property owner fails to remove the leaves then the property owner will likely be liable for any injury to a person caused by the leaves or debris on the sidewalk.

For example, in Portland owners of land abutting any street in the city have a duty to maintain the sidewalks, curbs, driveways and parking strips immediately adjacent to their land.  (Portland City Ord. 17.28.020 (A)).  The law then goes on to affirm that a property owner is liable for any and all injuries to a person who is injured as a result of a property owner's failure to keep the sidewalk, curb, driveway, or parking strip in a good condition or in good repair.  (Portland City Ord. 17.28.020 (A)). 

What does this mean for the property owner that doesn't maintain a sidewalk and a person is injured as a result?  The property owner will likely be liable for the person's injuries.  However, most home owner's insurance policies should cover this type of injury. If a person is injured then you should make a claim with your insurance. The insurance company should then compensate the injured person for all of their harms and losses.  This type of incident is exactly what home owner's insurance policies are for.

 What does this mean for a person that is injured by a poorly maintained sidewalk? The property owner's insurance should compensate them for all of their harms and losses that resulted from the poorly maintained sidewalk.  For example, if you slipped on wet slippery leaves and were injured then the property owner's insurance company should pay for lost wages, pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and Medical Expenses.  Some insurance policies also have Medpay coverage which is no fault coverage.  Medpay provides an amount to pay medical bills regardless of who is at fault for the injury.     

Many Oregon cities and counties have a code similar to Portland's.  Here is a list of laws for a handful of Oregon cities mandating property owners to maintain sidewalks in a safe manner.  In other words if you live in one of the cities below and you don't remove excessive leaves on your property you may be breaking the law:

  1. Beaverton Oregon, Title IV Chapter 42, 4.207-4.208
  2. Eugene Oregon, Eugene City Code 7.375
  3. Gresham Oregon 7.15.040 (5)
  4. Hillsboro Oregon Chapter 9, 9.16.010
  5. Lake Oswego Oregon LOC 42.06.310 and 34.02.035(20)
  6. Milwaukie Oregon Title 12 12.04.060
  7. Oregon City Oregon 12.04.030-12.04.031
  8. Portland Oregon Portland City Ord. 17.28.020 (A))
  9. Salem Oregon Chapter 78 78.220
  10. Springfield, Oregon Chapter 3.306
  11. Tualatin Oregon Title 02 Section 2-2-010 - 2-040

The list above is obviously not exhaustive and will likely change as time goes on.   If you have a question about a particular city's or county's sidewalk ordinance please call me at 503.224.1658 to discuss the issue.  

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a person failing to maintain their sidewalk call me at 503.224.1658.  Ross Law LLC is always happy to provide Free Personal Injury Consultations.  Please remember the law is constantly changing, so don't rely solely on this post.  This post is not to be intended as legal advice and it is best to consult with an attorney.  This post, this blog, and this website may be considered legal advice.