Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This is an article I found from the Ohio Insurance Institute dated 2/10/10
Written By:Mary Bonelli/Mitch Wilson

As far as Ohio law goes, it’s long been established that homeowners do not have a legal obligation to shovel when there is a natural accumulation of snow and ice. In December 1993 the Ohio Supreme Court upheld this concept when a guest attempted to sue a homeowner in Franklin County for a slip and fall outside of the homeowner's house. (See Brinkman v. Ross).Some states have laws in place requiring snow and ice removal; Ohio does not. However, a homeowner would be liable if someone decides to sue as a result of tripping over a crack or other irregularity on your walkway. Also, if someone slips on ice that was formed because of a poorly positioned down spout, you could be held liable.
1. Did this court decision affect the cost of homeowners insurance?It did not affect the cost of insurance since the court decision didn’t overturn the standard practice claims of most property/casualty insurers. This decision did not change existing Ohio law. It basically reinforced the claims practices of most Ohio insurers. In surveying some of Ohio’s insurance companies, OII found that these types of claims are rather infrequent. In the past, companies usually reviewed them on a case-by-case basis, and in some situations felt obliged to pay for such claims. The Supreme Court decision clarified by its ruling that homeowners cannot not be liable in situations where the injury was solely caused by natural accumulations of ice and snow. Because of the nature of Ohio winters, you’ll likely be subject to icy and snowy weather conditions causing sidewalks and roadways to become slick. Basically, you are walking at your own risk. Otherwise a homeowner would perpetually suffer the threat of lawsuits every time Mother Nature comes calling. 2. Should homeowners stop shoveling or clearing sidewalks? This is more of a personal decision than one that can be mandated by any industry. As a homeowner or business owner you may feel you have a moral obligation to keep walkways as clear as possible. By making the decision to not clear sidewalks and steps, not only do you jeopardize the safety of your visitors and guests, but also yourself and your family. 3. Can my local city or municipality invoke snow removal ordinances?Although you may not be held liable for injuries of others caused solely by slipping on ice or snow, some cities and villages have ordinances in place that require residents to make every attempt to keep sidewalks clear and impose subsequent fines on those who disregard warnings to that effect. Such an ordinance cannot invoke a homeowner’s liability for accidental slips and falls as part of its snow removal ordinance requirements. View the Bexley OH ordinance as an example.