The questions of whether a public authority has any duty to undertake removal of snow and ice from the highways and, if so, is there any duty to use salt, sand or other abrasives to make the road reasonably safe for travel are considered. Liability in eminent domain, trespass, and nuisance for snow removal and salting operations is also considered. The liability of public works agencies under highway defect statutes, and the special defenses of public agencies to negligence actions are discussed. Comments are also made regarding the liability of public agencies under tort claims acts. Many public authorities whether at the city, county or state level are now liable in tort for negligence in the failure to remedy snow and ice hazards on the highways. It is noted that cases hold public authorities liable in many instances where they fail to salt or sand an icy road hazard or fail to provide adequate warning of the danger. In those jurisdictions having "highway defect" statutes the courts hold that specific snow and ice hazards that are untreated or have inadequate warning may constitute a highway defect. Defenses of public agencies for negligent snow and ice removal do not appear to include immunity for governmental action, several courts holding that snow and ice removal and use of abrasives constitute maintenance or proprietary activity. The defense that such routine activity is a discretionary activity and therefore immune from liability also appears to be inapplicable. A snow and ice removal program, adopted by a public body having discretionary authority, that contained an inadequate or defective feature would probably be immunized.


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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00178360
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Aug 31 1998 12:00AM