As winter grips most of the northern half of the United States citizens of Cincinnati are once again confronted with navigating treacherous roads and sidewalks covered with snow and ice. Care should be taken by pedestrians, homeowners, and businesses to make falls less likely.
If you are going to be walking on a road, parking lot, or walkway in cold winter weather, you must be prepared for less traction as you walk. Frozen packed snow, visible ice, and black ice present particular hazards. Care should be taken even before you leave the house. Choose shoes or boots with good traction. Always look for a handrail or something to hold as you walk on frozen surfaces. Don’t move quickly, a fall could significantly delay your arrival at your destination.
Ohio homeowners have no duty to clear snow and ice from private driveways or public sidewalks. Obviously, it is a good idea to make it easier for people to get around. After clearing snow and ice watch for problem areas. Homeowners are liable for unnatural accumulation of snow and ice. So if you see a broken gutter that drips water on your steps, be aware that if that water freezes on the steps and someone slips on that ice and falls you are responsible for the injuries, since this would be an unnatural accumulation of ice.
Ohio businesses also have no duty to clear snow and ice, but generally they will to encourage the public to visit their place of business. It is important that this be done in a safe manner. If all the snow is placed into a big pile in the parking lot and the melting snow turns into a stream of water across the parking lot, it can become hazardous as temperatures drop at night. Any ice resulting from the melting pile of snow is an unnatural accumulation of ice rendering the business owner liable.
Ohio law recognizes the inherent dangers of snow and ice, but does provide some remedy for those injured under some circumstances.