Slip and Fall Snow or Ice Cases In Ohio
In slip and fall cases involving snow or ice, the general rule in Ohio is that an owner or occupier of land ordinarily owes no duty to business invitees to remove natural accumulations of ice and snow from the sidewalks on the premises, or to warn the invitees of the danger associated with natural accumulations of ice and snow. Brinkman v. Ross (1993), 68 Ohio St. 3d 82, 83, 623 N.E.2d 1175, citing Debie v. Cochran Pharmacy-Berwick, Inc. (1967), 11 Ohio St. 2d 38, 227 N.E.2d 603, and Sidle v. Humphrey (1968), 13 Ohio St. 2d 45, 233 N.E.2d 589.
The underlying rationale for this rule is that "everyone is assumed to appreciate the risk associated with natural accumulations of ice and snow and therefore, everyone is responsible to protect himself or herself against the inherent risks presented by natural accumulation of ice and snow." Brinkman, supra, at 84.
The threshold question then is whether the accumulation of snow or ice is "natural", and if it is natural, no duty exists to remove the accumulation or to render it less dangerous. Weems v. Waldock Investment Co.(Oct. 29, 1999), Erie App. No. E-98-090, unreported; Community Insurance Co. v. McDonald's Restaurants of Ohio, Inc (Dec. 11, 1998), Montgomery App. No. 17051, 17053, unreported.
An "unnatural" accumulation of snow and ice is one that has been created by causes and factors other than meteorological forces of nature such as the inclement weather conditions of low temperature, strong winds and drifting show. Porter v. Miller (1983), 13 Ohio App. 3d 93, 95, 468 N.E.2d 134.