It’s a winter day in Northeast Ohio and you’re walking on what appears to be clear ground. Then, suddenly, your feet slide out from under you on “black ice” and you fall and break your wrist.
Who’s at fault? Can you sue for your damages and injuries?
Under Ohio law, there is generally no recovery for injuries caused by a slip and fall on a natural accumulation of ice and snow. The courts have held that if you live in the region, you should be aware that black ice could potentially be anywhere.
However, where a landlord contractually agrees to remove ice and snow and does not do so, then the landlord may be liable. For example, many shopping center and office building leases provide that the landlord is responsible for removing ice and snow. Some courts have held the landlord responsible for failing to do so, and you may sue for your injuries and damages.
Where there is an unnatural accumulation of ice and snow, then the property owner may be legally liable for injuries caused by that ice or snow. Examples include pavement defects which allow water to accumulate and then freeze, drainage pipes which cause an unnatural flow into an area; and down spouts which do the same.
Failure to provide appropriate guard rails on exterior stairs or ramps, which the property owner has reason to know will become slippery or icy in winter and become hazardous to users, may make the owner or tenant in control responsible for your injuries.
Open manholes or gratings which are in a walkway and covered by snow may create liability where the property owner knew or should have known of the concealed hazard and failed to warn pedestrians.
Condominium Associations and others responsible for the maintenance of common areas may also be responsible for their failure to keep these areas free of ice and snow, where the By-Laws give them responsibility for doing so.
Recovering for injuries on ice and snow is difficult in this region. The facts of each case are different and require expert evaluation. Please call us to answer any questions you may have regarding injuries you sustained from slipping and falling on ice or snow.
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