Winter is here in Ohio and while many residents take the time to prepare for the holiday season, Ohio property owners and homeowners must prepare for dangerous winter conditions. Transitioning weather conditions, like snow and ice, do not change or alleviate a property owner's duty toward guests and patrons.
If owners are aware, or should be aware, of an unsafe condition, like an icy sidewalk, they have a duty to fix the problem or warn visitors or the danger. Breach of that duty can mean negligence on the part of a property owner and if a person is injured as a result of that negligence, he or she may be eligible for an award of damages through a premises liability lawsuit.
There are various ways that owners can prepare and prevent such accidents. Property owners should conduct regular inspections to check the terrain before major snows and fix any major cracks or potholes. Owners should also have procedures for snow and ice removal in place before the last minute. Preparation will help the hazards be removed as quickly as possible.
Lighting should not be overlooked either. If owners know that certain places are more susceptible to ice buildup then adequate lighting will help visitors see any hazards.
These precautions apply to inside the premises as well. Although snow and ice is the biggest factor outside, people track in the conditions and soon, interior floors could be made slippery with melting snow. Responsible property owners will be on the lookout for any winter-related hazards, fix them in a timely manner or warn guests of the conditions.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Winter's Coming -- How to Prepare Your Business to Help Prevent Slip Fall Accidents," Kiernan Hopkins, Nov. 5, 2013