The Laws for Shoveling Snow off Your Sidewalk in Hampton Roads

When snow falls and it’s freezing and icy outside, it can be tempting to ignore your sidewalk and to remain indoors.

However, many cities in Hampton Roads have ordinances that require homeowners to clear the snow from sidewalks outside their homes. If a passer-by falls over and is injured, they are unlikely to have much luck bringing a lawsuit. You could be in breach of a city ordinance, though.

In Virginia, common law protects the homeowner from liability in most situations although different cities have different laws.

If you run a business, it’s another matter. Under the law of premises liability, businesses can be held liable for slip and fall accidents that cause injuries outside their building if they have failed to clear snow and ice.

The laws for clearing snow

Clearing snow in Western Branch, Chesapeake

The Virginian-Pilot states all cities in Hampton Roads, with the exception of Chesapeake, have ordinances that address snow removal.

Here are the rules for the cities of Hampton Roads

Virginia Beach

Property owners or occupants of homes are required to clear snow from the public walkways by their property within six hours after “such removal can first be reasonably effected.”

Portsmouth and Norfolk

Property owners and residents must clear sidewalks and gutters within three hours of the end of the snowfall

If the snow stops falling between 3 p.m. and 7 a.m. the next day, residents should shovel by 11 a.m.

Failure to comply with the ordinance in Norfolk or Portsmouth you can lead to a class 4 misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $250.


Residents are given six hours to remove snow from sidewalks outside their homes. A violation could yield a fine of no more than $5 a day in Suffolk

Newport News

Owners or occupants are required to clear sidewalks adjacent to their homes of snow and ice. The snow must be removed within five daylight hours after it stops snowing. Ice must be removed or covered with sand to stop walkers slipping within four daylight hours.


In Hampton, all walkways and sidewalks must be cleared of ice or snow by the homeowner or the occupant within three hours after snow has stopped falling or by 9 a.m. if the snowfall happened overnight.

These snow clearing ordinances are seldom used. The Pilot quoted Officer Daniel Hudson of Norfolk Police who could not find a citation issued for the non-clearance of snow.

Notwithstanding the law, it’s common courtesy to shovel snow off your sidewalks. You may prevent harm to a passer-by or your own family.

Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers help people who have been injured in slip and fall accidents outside commercial premises. Call us today for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.

Bill O'Mara

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