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Can I Sue if I Slipped on an Icy Sidewalk in Ohio?

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Can I Sue if I Slipped on an Icy Sidewalk in Ohio?

December 07, 2021
By Lafferty Gallagher Scott

Sometimes you can sue after slipping on an icy sidewalk in Ohio. The law on slip and fall lawsuits in Ohio and a proprietor’s duty to ensure the area surrounding their establishment is safe is different from the law pertaining to other negligence lawsuits, and the rules surrounding them are confusing.

A proprietor has no duty of care to ensure that “natural” accumulation of snow and ice is removed from areas surrounding their premises. This is called the “Winter Rule.” However, folks do not like risking their health to access a store. Once the proprietor decides to remove the snow and ice, they are responsible for the quality of that job and its completion. Yet, if they make no effort to remove the snow and ice, they can claim that they had no duty of care to the public to ensure their safety.

These laws are proprietor-friendly. In most states, the law would impose a duty of care on the proprietor to ensure their premises were accessible and safe so long as they had reason to know the dangerous condition would be present (such as after a snowfall). Below we will discuss icy sidewalk slip and fall lawsuits and how they are successfully tried.

Icy Sidewalk Slip and Falls: A Scenario

As an example, let’s say that a proprietor hires a company to remove snow from their parking lot. The company plows the snow into a huge pile which is uphill from the rest of the parking lot. The snow melts and then freezes again creating an icy pavement and a danger to customers. Since the proprietor created the dangerous condition or authorized its creation by a third party, a customer could sue under those circumstances since the accumulation was “unnatural.”

Third-Party Lawsuits

In some cases, the proprietor may have contracted away their duty of care to a third party who is responsible for maintaining the grounds after a large snowfall. In that case, it may be possible to file a separate lawsuit against the plow contractor who negligently removed the snow. In that case, the snow has been unnaturally accumulated in a negligent fashion resulting in an injury. The third party may assume liability for the proprietor who expected them to execute their duty competently.

Other Exceptions to the “Winter Rule”

In some cases, a proprietor can be held liable for naturally-occurring snow and ice that has been present on the property for a long time and presents a danger to anyone accessing the property. Because customers are expected to know that ice is slippery, the danger is “open and obvious.” In cases where the proprietor allows a condition to persist that is not “open and obvious” to the customer, and the customer is injured without warning, the customer may pursue a lawsuit against the proprietor.

Talk to an Ohio Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident involving icy pavement or asphalt, let the personal injury attorneys at Lafferty, Gallagher, & Scott look over your claim before you decide to walk away. We may be able to find an exception in the Winter Rule that applies to your case. Call today.

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