A listener wants to know whether he could be liable for ice caused by his neighbor’s water pipe. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
Dane wrote in because his neighbor’s water pipe drains onto his neighbor’s sidewalk but the law of gravity causes the water to flow downhill past the property line and to form ice on the sidewalk in front of Dane’s house. Dane is worried about a different law—liability law: if someone slips on his property caused by the water flowing from the neighbor’s pipe, could he be sued?
Dane, you’re right to be concerned. If someone is hurt on your property, the issue will be whether you were aware of a dangerous condition—even if it’s not your fault that it exists—and the precautions you took to mitigate it. So first, talk to your neighbor, see if the neighbor can reroute the water. Then spread salt over your sidewalk and consider getting a hazard or ice sign to warn people because Murphy’s Law will tell you that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong, so take action to prevent it.