With winter weather settling in, it is inevitable that some will slip and fall. While we hope this never happens, if it does, the attorneys and staff at Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC are here to help.
I Slipped and Fell on Ice or Snow, What Can I do?
Well, it depends. In Ohio, the law recognizes a “Winter Rule” that states the risk of snow and ice are part of winter. Because of this, a business will not be liable for a fall due to snow or ice, because these hazards are well known and individuals should know and look out for these hazards.
However, the law recognizes an exception known as “Unnatural Accumulation.” Here, liability may be present if the hazard was created by something other than natural forces. Put differently, if the snow or ice hazard is created by something other than low temperature, wind, or other natural occurrences, a business may be liable. But there are still limits to this exception, based on the reason why you were where you slipped and fell, discussed below.
What Standard of Care am I Owed?
Ohio recognizes three categories when someone is out and about: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. To be an invitee, you must be on the premise of another, by invitation, for a reason beneficial to the owner. Invitees are owed the duty that a business exercise ordinary care to maintain the premises in a reasonable safe condition and to warn invitees of hidden dangers. However, if you are in a business or premise for a reason that extends the scope of the owner’s invitation, you will be considered a licensee or trespasser. In the case of being a licensee or trespasser, you are only owed not to be subjected to “wanton or willful” negligence.
This difference really matters. Imagine you’re walking in front of a store, about to enter to purchase items. Before you make it through the door, you slip and fall on a patch of ice covered by the snow. You later discover that the ice formed not because of the snow and cold conditions, but because the store allowed a pipe to leak, which froze and was hidden by the snow. Here, since you are in invitee, because you are entering the store to shop, you will likely have a case against the store.
However, let’s say you are walking in front of the same store, but have no intention to enter and shop; you are simply walking in front of the store to get to a different location. Same slip occurs due to the same reason. Here, there is likely not a case because you are considered a licensee, and the leaky pipe is likely not considered wanton or willful.
If you have suffered from a slip and fall, it is important to immediately contact our Offices to determine if your injury is recoverable. Our attorneys and staff are eager, willing, and able to assist you!