COLUMBUS, Ohio — Homeowners, with a storm on the way, shoveling is likely in your future.
But if you don't clear the snow or ice, are you liable if someone slips, falls, and gets hurt?
That's a question a viewer just sent our verify team.
Carol Hofbauer asked: "Is a homeowner liable if someone falls on the sidewalk in front of their house that was not shoveled and was icy? Are there any laws or regulations in Ohio that require a homeowner to shovel the snow on the sidewalk?"
- New Albany
- Sarah Cole, the Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at The Ohio State University
Depending on where you live, there may be an ordinance requiring a property owner to remove ice and snow.
However, we can verify, no, a homeowner is not liable if someone falls on the sidewalk in front of their house that was not shoveled and was icy.
Here's what we found.
"This is such a great question and a perennial one here in the state of Ohio, where snow and ice are obviously very common,” said Cole. “You might be surprised to know that homeowners actually have no duty to clear the sidewalks of natural accumulations of snow and ice.”
Cole explained snow and ice accumulating in winter are considered open and obvious dangers.
“And the Ohio Supreme Court has routinely held that landowners and in fact even business owners don't have a duty to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice,” she said.
So, if somebody gets hurt on your sidewalk, are you responsible?
"In terms of tort law, or personal injury law, there isn't a responsibility to that landowner, as long as you haven't made that natural accumulation more dangerous through your own behavior. Like let's say if you had drained from your house leaking water onto your front walkway, and so the walkway was much more icy than an individual walking on that sidewalk would have expected or driveway,” Cole explained.
The city or town you live in may have its own guidance or regulation for property owners.
In Columbus, city code requires home and business owners to clear sidewalks.
And In Delaware -- an ordinance prohibits property owners or occupants from allowing snow and ice to accumulate "to the annoyance of the public."
Visit the links in the different municipalities listed above under sources to learn more.
Have something you’d like us to verify? Send us an email to verify@10TV.com.