5 January 2017
Although there’s no question that winter is well underway, it’s still going to be awhile until temperatures start to warm up again. While there are a number of things to like about this time of year, there are also some important safety issues to keep in mind. One of those issues is slipping on an icy sidewalk and getting injured. Specifically, what does this mean for you if it’s someone else who slips and they injure themselves on your sidewalk?
The answer to that question can vary quite a bit based on where you live. We’re going to focus on answering it for homeowners who live in and around the Cincinnati area. The way that applicable laws read is homeowners are not liable if they take no action to clear their sidewalks or driveways. The reasoning behind this is a snow and ice hazard is open and obvious for all to see.
Where things gets a little tricky is with the other component of the law. It states that a duty voluntarily assumed cannot be carelessly undertaken without incurring liability. What this means is if you clear off your sidewalk but someone later slips and hurts themselves, you may be held liable for this incident. Regardless of whether you only miss a tiny patch of ice or give up your attempt to clear the area shortly after beginning, taking any steps that prevent the danger from being open and obvious can shift liability to your shoulders.
So, does this reading of the law mean that you should leave your shovel in the garage all winter? Not at all. Given that Cincinnati has municipal ordinances which require you to clean snow and ice from your sidewalks (or face a fine), this is something you should continue to do.
The important takeaway about the possibility of someone slipping on your sidewalk and hurting themselves is accidents do happen. And because the law can make liability for this type of incident somewhat confusing, it’s definitely better to be proactive about protecting yourself instead of leaving things up to chance.
The solution for protecting yourself is ensuring your homeowners insurance policy includes liability coverage. Most homeowners and rental policies can include $100,000 of liability coverage for a very minimal cost. Even increasing to $300,000 or $500,000 is a very reasonable expense. If you’re already at $500,000, you can get add additional liability coverage with an umbrella policy. Then in the event that someone gets hurt by slipping on ice or any other accident that occurs on your property, this type of coverage can help with everything from medical bills to lost wages.
If you want to make a change to your homeowners insurance so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that goes along with being covered by personal liability insurance, we make it easy to compare options. You can get a free insurance quote online or discuss your homeowners insurance needs with us on the phone by calling 513-587-3553.