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The Ice Squad Associations Battle Mother Nature to Avoid Lawsuits

 As any good condo administrator knows—either through common sense or painful experience - failing to clean up snow or  ice promptly can result in injuries, acrimony, and expensive lawsuits. Any one  of those is reason enough to get serious about snow and ice control around your  HOA, but in the current economic climate, the threat of massive legal bills is  very real, and very scary. Litigation has become far more prevalent than it  used be, and insurance companies don't have the same protection that they used  to have under state law. As a result, many are passing expensees and legal  costs on to current clients.  

 So what’s a conscientious board to do when the snow flies and the sidewalk outside the  building or complex is covered in a sheet of ice? Bone up, primarily. It’s your job—and knowing both what the law has to say about your responsibilities as a board  as well as what products and technologies are out there to help you with you  task are important pieces of the puzzle for multifamily communities.  

 It’s the Law

 It's a commonly misheld notion that even if HOAs and unit owners make every  attempt to keep sidewalks and walkways clear of snow and ice, they can still be  held liable if they inadvertantly miss and someone slips and falls.  

 Actually, this isn't the case. Back in 2008, the Circuit Court of Cook County  ruled on appeal in the case of Divis v. Woods Edge Homeowners Association. In  short, that case revolved around plaintiff George Divis, who according to court  records alleged that in January of 2006 he exited his condo "and slipped and  fell on a patch of ice, suffering numerous injuries....The complaint also  alleged that snow had fallen on the property in the days prior to plaintiff's  fall and that as a result of the 'incomplete and improper' snow removal,  several large patches of ice accumulated on the walkway, causing him to fall."  

 According to the official court ruling, the Illinois' Snow and Ice Removal Act  "...provides defendants with an affirmative defense against plaintiff's claims  of negligent or improper snow removal. Section 1 of the Act provides that "it  is undesirable for any person" to be liable for damages due to his or her snow  removal efforts, unless those acts amount to "clear wrongdoing. Section 2 of  the Act provides that "any agent of or other person engaged by any such party"  who removes or attempts to remove snow or ice from sidewalks shall not be  liable for injuries caused by his or her removal efforts, unless those acts or  omissions were willful or wanton. 745 ILCS 75/2 (West 2006)  

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