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Snow fall leads to criminal charge

Published: 11 Dec 2012 09:51 GMT+01:00

Half of Germany has been waking up this week to the sound of scraping and brushing as landlords and house-owners arise before dawn to clear the pavements of snow.

Poorly cleared snowy pavements often lead to accidents - and a hefty bill for compensation for the house owner, whose legal duty it is to clear a walkway - but charges are rare, the Süddeutsche Zeitung said on Tuesday.

Click here to see more pictures of the weekend's snowfall

Yet the 32-year-old man was in court in Augsburg on Monday facing charges of causing injury by negligence after a woman fell over outside his house and suffered strained ligaments.

The 44-year-old woman not only sued for compensation, but also filed a criminal charge, which was taken up by the state prosecutor, who demanded he be fined a fine of 25 days' income.

The man told the court his grandmother had cleared the snow that morning - but the woman said there was ice on the pavement which had caused her fall. The court dismissed the case and the man was acquitted.

Most towns and local councils require house-owners to clear the snow next to their property, and have rules about pavements being cleared before 7 am, and keeping them clear until 8 pm.

Click here for The Local's weather forecast

A brief interlude of above-freezing for much of the country on Monday, followed by freezing temperatures during the night left many areas with treacherous conditions for cars and people. The German Weather Service (DWD) forecast double-digit minus temperatures by the middle of the week.

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Your comments about this article

10:48 December 11, 2012 by raandy
I think as long as you are making an attempt to keep the walk way clear , then you have done your part.If someone falls its not nice but how can the owner be held responsible as long as the weather continues to snow and low temps cause ice.

What about the city, do they have any responsibility to keep pedestrian walk ways clear and sanded?
11:57 December 11, 2012 by gkh50
Bonkers. one of the many bonkers laws. I guess you are expected to take time off work when it snows so you can keep clearing it away.

Mad, mad mad.
12:05 December 11, 2012 by auniquecorn
Thats what we have our grandmothers for, right?
13:01 December 11, 2012 by raandy
auniquecorn LOL, good one
13:57 December 11, 2012 by lucksi
The city can simply put up a sign "Kein Winterdienst auf diesem Weg" -no snow plowing services on this walkway- and be free of the burden. The normal people can't.

Every year, we have the problem with hanging icycles and roof avalanches. The home owners are also liable for those. Yet, you can't clear them because cars are parking too close to the house.
14:40 December 11, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
So if a bird slips and hurts itself on my balcony due to ice and snow I am liable for animal cruelty?
19:53 December 11, 2012 by 9900lawre
There is the following caviat writen into the European H&S laws which is why so many cases get thrown out. The wording is 'Where practicable and reasonable'. It is reasonable to expect someone to take 10 minutes before work and 10 mintures after their work to clear snow away from any access to help prevent a build up of snow that may cause obstruction and harm to others. It is not however reasonable nor practicable to come home every time the snow stops just to do this. In the case of a buisness where the empoyees may have to, it is reasonable. It is not however practicle to clear snow whilst it is still falling as this is better known as P!$$!ng into the wind!

On Sunday i saw a man sit on his &r$£ next to an icy spot on the pavement waiting for a car to stop and see if he was alright (obviously to claim some easy money). I so wish he was sat next to an icy puddle when i drove past. That would have been an insurance excess i would have gladly paid for a laugh.
16:39 December 12, 2012 by Englishted
I left for work at 5am this morning it had snowed and was still snowing ,what should I have done? scraped the pavement at 4.30 ? .

I came home from work at 4pm and then did it ,oh no what a criminal I am .
17:47 December 12, 2012 by raandy
9900lawre 'Where practicable and reasonable'. that is excellent, good wording, it could have easily said "Be a good neighbor and help clear the snow off the walk way , when your not busy.
22:26 December 12, 2012 by NordicStar
Just curious to know, what happens if such house owners have winter holidays and travel out of Germany?

Does having such walk path next to a house make the real estate price lower for the house?
17:22 December 13, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Does the fact I live on the 4th floor exempt me from responsibility of clearing the pavement in front of the house? I can clear the window ledges though.
19:07 December 13, 2012 by Englishted
@Berlin fuer alles

You may be on a rota and your time will come ,just look out for a very official letter from the resident committee.At the moment it is the fourth flat on floor two so it is coming.
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