AT&T has decided not to sue a homeowner after one of the company’s technicians slipped and fell on his icy walkway in suburban Chicago.
Steve Czerwein was shocked when he got a notice in the mail from the phone giant, saying they believed he was liable for nearly $3,000 in medical expenses. He rents to an elderly couple who are diligent about clearing snow and salting their walkway, Czerwein told the Chicago Tribune. He thought AT&T workers would be bonded and insured. His insurance company told him that his rates would definitely go up if forced to file a claim.
Feeling “intimidated,” Czerwein called a radio show a few weeks ago and told his story. Not long after, AT&T wrote him back to apologize and say they were dropping the case.
The case might make you consider not shoveling your walk. Why? Illinois law says homeowners are not liable for “natural accumulations of snow and ice,” Rogelio Lasso, a John Marshall School of Law professor, told the Tribune. But if you do clean it, “you have to do it reasonably,” Lasso said.
So what is “reasonable shoveling”? While you might get in trouble with the city for failing to clear the snow, you might be opening yourself up for potential lawsuits if you do shovel, but don’t do it adequately.
In this case, Lasso believes AT&T would’ve lost the case had it become a lawsuit because the company failed to take pictures of the scene immediately after the man’s fall.