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Snow and Ice Cases Summarized By Injury Attorney

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Snow and Ice.   

1998 Amos v. NationsBank, 256 Va. 344, 504 S.E.2d 365.

Plaintiff was invitee on defendant’s property when she fell on ice and snow. Defendant in this case may wait until end of storm and reasonable time thereafter before removing ice and snow. Evidence presented at trial and reasonable inferences therefrom are that storm had not yet passed when plaintiff fell. As such there was no duty to clear walkway as of time of fall.

1993 Waters v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 246 Va. 269, 435 S.E.2d 380.

On January 7 there was heavy snowfall and below freezing temperatures. On January 11 plaintiff decided to go to Safeway to purchase groceries. She parked in Safeway lot, observed snow and slush on pavement, and chose what she felt was safest place to park her car. Then, while wearing snow boots she walked into store without falling. On her way back to car she fell on ice and snow. Trial court ruled that plaintiff assumed risk as matter of law. Assumption of risk involves venturousness and involves subjective test of whether plaintiff fully understood nature and extent of known danger and voluntarily exposed herself to it. In this case, Safeway was open for business, it had made some effort to clear ice and snow, and was inviting customers to park their vehicles in lot. Plaintiff had successfully entered store, and she believed she could safely exit also if she exercised reasonable care in doing so. Assumption of risk was issue for jury.

1990 Artrip v. E.E. Berry Equip. Co., 240 Va. 354, 397 S.E.2d 821.

Defendant testified that snow plow, if properly operated, would not cause snow to accumulate high across curb bordering parking lot. Plaintiff’s evidence showed that snow removed from parking lot had, in fact, piled approximately three feet high along curb and sidewalk, leaving no opening for persons intending to enter building. Jury question presented as to defendant’s negligence.

1989 Commonwealth v. Coolidge, 237 Va. 621, 379 S.E.2d 338.

Mud accumulated at base of walkway during rainstorms. Defective condition in this case did not come about solely as result of this storm. Therefore, principle that property owner has reasonable time after storm to remove precipitation is not applicable here.

1989 FAD Ltd. P’ship v. Feagley, 237 Va. 413, 377 S.E.2d 437.

Landlord has no duty to remove ice from porch and steps of apartment house while moisture still falling and freezing.

1984 Mary Washington Hosp. v. Gibson, 228 Va. 95, 319 S.E.2d 741.

Case of slipping and falling on ice. In discharging duty owed to invitee, commercial establishment is permitted to await end of storm and reasonable time thereafter to remove ice and snow from outdoor entrance walk in absence of special circumstances.

1984 Tate v. Rice, 227 Va. 341, 315 S.E.2d 385.

Plaintiff was delivery man who made deliveries to defendant’s private residence. He fell on ice and snow on defendant’s driveway. In regards to private homeowner, obviousness of danger serves to eliminate any duty on landowner’s part to warn of or to remove danger. Court held that duty of owner or occupier of private residence to maintain his premises in condition which is reasonably safe for invitee does not extend to warning of or removing danger that is open and obvious.

1984 King v. Bondurant Dev. Corp., 227 Va. 206, 315 S.E.2d 390.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on some ice as he exited from doorway. In answers to interrogatories plaintiff admitted that when he entered doorway he noted some snow and ice accumulation. Couple of minutes later when he exited, area was in same condition. In his pleadings plaintiff alleged that walking on that surface was extremely hazardous due to accumulation of snow and ice. On pre-trial motion for summary judgment allegation was insufficient to convict plaintiff of contributory negligence as matter of law. Plaintiff does not state that he perceived and appreciated danger before walking in that area and he does not admit facts which would necessarily render danger obvious to person exercising reasonable care. To prevail on this motion defendant would have to establish foregoing matters.

1983 Kings Mkts. v. Yeatts, 226 Va. 174, 307 S.E.2d 249.

Evidence supports jury’s finding that defendant was negligent in keeping its store open during adverse weather conditions and in failing to keep its premises in reasonably safe condition, i.e., reasonably free of ice and snow. In this case accident occurred on January 16. Evidence indicated that little was done after January 14 to remove icy conditions. Defendant-store’s supply of salt was very limited. Its effort to break up ice with hammers and shovels were too time-consuming and arduous and were abandoned.

1974 Wynne v. Spainhour, 215 Va. 16, 205 S.E.2d 634.

Plaintiff fell on service station pavement on “dark moisture spot” that turned out to be ice. Defendant did all that exercise of reasonable care required to remove snow and ice. Although duty to warn of hidden dangers, no duty, when, as here, remaining ice spots were open and obvious. Negligence not proven.

1969 Cannon v. Clarke, 209 Va. 708, 167 S.E.2d 352.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on snow and ice on defendant’s porch. Failure to prove notice or negligence on part of defendant.

1966 Langhorne Rd. Apts., Inc. v. Bisson, 207 Va. 474, 150 S.E.2d 540.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on icy sidewalk under control of defendant. Obligations of landlord discussed. Plaintiff did not assume risk because he saw walkway spotted with icy places, nor was he contributorily negligent in failing to walk through snow beside walk.

1964 Shiflett v. Timberlake, Inc., 205 Va. 406, 137 S.E.2d 908.

Snowy day. Plaintiff fell inside defendant’s store. Defendant did not mop up water. Dispute as to presence of mat. Jury issue.

1960 Johnson v. J.S. Bell & Co., 202 Va. 274, 117 S.E.2d 85.

Local ordinances requiring abutting property owners or occupants to remove snow from sidewalk within specified time does not render such owner or occupant liable to third person injured on sidewalk. Owner or occupier owes no duty to keep sidewalks free of ice and snow from natural causes. This duty is primarily that of municipality. Such ordinances are enacted for benefit of city and not for protection of third persons.

1949 Hill v. City of Richmond, 189 Va. 576, 53 S.E.2d 810.

Plaintiff fell at night over slight depression in sidewalk with which he was familiar, but he claimed that it was hidden by snow. Court held that he should have remembered where depression was and taken precautions. Several cases cited.

1948 Walker v. Memorial Hosp., 187 Va. 5, 45 S.E.2d 898.

There is no obligation to remove ice and snow nor to warn of its presence until such time as precipitation has stopped. Every pedestrian who ventures out in inclement weather with precipitation on ground is risking chance of fall.

1943 Brann v. F.W. Woolworth, 181 Va. 213, 24 S.E.2d 424.

Plaintiff slipped and fell on ice on sidewalk in front of defendant’s premises. Ice was formed from water which defendant’s employee had used to wash front window. Court sustained finding of negligence on part of defendant.