Residents who refuse to shovel sidewalks can face lawsuits, citations

TWINSBURG, OH (WOIO) - Shoveling the snow is hard work. It's hard work in the cold. Many of us put the time in to get the driveway shoveled, but not so much when it comes to shoveling the sidewalks.

There are two things to keep in mind when considering whether to shovel your sidewalks:

State law in Ohio says that you are under no obligation to shovel your sidewalk and that fact, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute, makes it unlikely you will be held liable if someone falls on your sidewalk.

A case, cited by the O.I.I., heard by the Ohio Supreme Court -- Brinkman v. Ross -- ruled for the homeowner, after someone broke an ankle on an icy sidewalk.

A lawyer we spoke with warned, however, that each case has it's unique facts and despite the Ohio Supreme Court ruling in that specific case, you could still be taken to court.

Also your community may have their own set of laws regarding snowy sidewalks and it's best you check with your local city hall to learn what your responsibilities are.

Twinsburg has a law on the books that you must clear your sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of the snowfall, and you can be charged with a misdemeanor if you don't get them cleared.

"We certainly encourage the residents to do it, but I don't think the city's goal is to go and fine everybody that doesn't," Twinsburg Law Director David Maistros said.

John Casto who lives in the city was out shoveling his sidewalks when we caught up with him, "It's not about liability, its courtesy, for people to walk," he said.

Olmsted Falls and Lakewood have similar laws. Both cities can charge you with a misdemeanor if you don't shovel the sidewalk.

Olmsted Falls gives you twelve hours to shovel the sidewalk and Lakewood says it must be done by 8 p.m. the day of or after an overnight snowfall.

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