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High snow volumes create slippery, dangerous conditions

Snow and ice are to be expected in a typical Ohio winter. Since slippery conditions during winters months are the norm, premises liability laws generally does not require a property owner to remove snow or ice buildup outside of a business or home. If the property owner does choose the route of snow or ice removal, the owner is then responsible for ensuring that the removal is not done negligently.

The owner may also be responsible for an unnatural buildup of snow or ice and, therefore, responsible for anyone injured because of the dangerous condition. An unnatural condition could be something as simple as a dip in the parking lot pavement that causes puddles to freeze into slippery ice patches. Routine inspections can alert owners to the presence of such dangerous conditions.

Business and property owners across Ohio consider their options during the winter season but this year seems particularly daunting with the high amount of snowfall early in the season. Residents are dealing with slippery roads and icy sidewalks

Sidewalks are a tricky area of premises liability. Many sidewalks are owned by the city localities but many of these same cities legally require business and property owners to keep the walks clear in front of their property. If owners do not follow these laws and someone is injured in a fall, the owner could be liable.

In Columbus, the Department of Public Service offered some guidelines for property owners on sidewalk and driveway maintenance. Both business and private property owners should shovel any walks that are on their property or abut the property. Shoveling snow into the street or sidewalk from a driveway is a violation of city code. Owners should also use sand or salt on slippery surfaces like steps and stairs. All of these actions can help prevent slip and fall injuries.

Source: NBC 4, "Emergency Rooms Busy With Injuries From Snow, Ice-Related Falls," Candice Lee, Dec. 11, 2013

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