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Ohio Winter Weather Is A Cause For Premises Liability Concerns.

As Ohio's winter weather really starts to harshen, it is important that people appreciate the risks associated with the ice and snow that accompanies the drop in temperature, particularly, the risk of slipping and falling in slippery conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"), more than a million Americans experience a slip and fall injury each year, and, of those injuries, over 17, 000 prove fatal. Ice and snow accumulation continues to be a leading cause of such slip and fall injuries.

A recent decision by the Ohio Supreme Court demonstrates the need for individuals to be wary of icy conditions, as the Court essentially held that the risk associated sub-freezing temperatures is so obvious that a person injured by such conditions will most likely be completely barred from recovery.

As this blog has discussed before, property owners owe those individuals that enter onto their premises a duty to maintain that property in reasonably safe condition. This duty is commonly referred to in legal terms as premises liability. Slip and fall claims usually arise when a customer of business trips or falls as the result of a slippery surface, uneven pavement, or improperly constructed or maintained stairwell. As already mentioned, one of the most common causes of slippery and/or uneven surfaces is accumulation of ice and snow.

In Tanio v. Ultimate Wash (2013), 2013-Ohio-939, the plaintiff, Tanio, patronized a self-serve car wash in the winter of 2009. While washing her vehilce, Tanio slipped on a patch of black ice and fractured her knee. Tanio sued, alleging that Ultimate Wash had been negligent in allowing the ice to accumulate. The trial court granted summary judgment to Ultimate Wash, opining that the risk of ice forming while using a car wash in subfreezing temperatures is so open and obvious that no duty attaches to the land owner to protect against such a hazard.

On appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed, stating that the "inherent open and obvious risk was not Tanio's ability to see the ice, but that the use of water in cold temperatures causes ice to form."

The qualified attorneys of DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder have extensive experience representing individuals that have been injured as a result of the negligence of property owners. If you or someone you know has been injured on the property of another, contact the attorneys of DiCaudo & Yoder, LLC today.

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