Slips and Falls on Ice and Snow – The “Hills and Ridges Doctrine”


The “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine presents defense to folks in handle of house on which a slip and fall happens on ice or snow. However, confusion exists as to the applicability of this protection, which is only accessible when the fall is prompted by a purely natural accumulation of ice or snow.

Pennsylvania Conventional Civil Jury Instruction 7.04, titled Owner/Occupier’s Duty of Care (Ice or Snow on Abutting Public Sidewalk or Going for walks Floor) states the subsequent:

1 in possession of land is required to clear away ice and snow that has amassed on the public [sidewalk] [walking surface] abutting his or her assets within a sensible time following he or she is on detect that a risky situation exists. To build legal responsibility on the landowner, the plaintiff have to confirm that just about every of the next 3 necessities was present:

1st, that ice and snow had gathered on the [sidewalk] [walking surface] in ridges or elevations that unreasonably obstructed travel and ended up a risk to individuals traveling on the walk

2nd, that the defendant residence operator realized or should have recognised of the existence of this kind of problems

Third, that it was the dangerous accumulation of ice and snow that triggered the plaintiff to tumble.
The initially “critical” in the Typical Jury Instruction is normally recognized as the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine. The Doctrine shields an proprietor or occupier of land from liability for “typically slippery circumstances resulting from ice and snow exactly where the operator has not permitted the ice and snow to unreasonably accumulate in ridges or elevations.” Morin v. Traveler’s Rest Motel, Inc., 704 A.2d 1085, 1087 (Pa. Super. 1997). The rationale behind the Doctrine is that a possessor of land need to not be liable for standard slippery situations, for to involve that one’s walkways be generally free of ice and snow would impose an not possible load in view of the climatic ailments in Pennsylvania. Wentz v. Pennswood Apts., 518 A.2d 314 (Pa. Super. 1986).

Having said that, there are limitations to the applicability of the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine. The Doctrine may perhaps be used only in cases wherever the snow and ice complained of are the consequence of an fully pure accumulation next a the latest climate occasion, for the reason that the defense afforded by the Doctrine is predicated on the assumption that these formations are purely natural phenomena incidental to our weather. Bacsick v. Barnes, 341 A.2d 157 (Pa. Super. 1975). As this sort of, exactly where the ice and/or snow is localized and there are no typically slippery conditions in the group or when a slippery problem is brought on by an artificial situation somewhat than a current climate occasion, the Doctrine is inapplicable. For example, icy ailments ensuing from the melting and refreezing of snow and ice rather than a modern storm would not be topic to the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine. Likewise, icy ailments ensuing from a faulty water pipe or leaking gutter would not be protected by the Doctrine.

In the current circumstance of Harvey v. Rouse Chamberlin, Ltd., 901 A.2d 523 (Pa. Tremendous. 2006), the Superior Court docket held that the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine would not implement when Mrs. Harvey fell on a road which experienced been not too long ago plowed and appeared to be clear and dry, but essentially had black ice. The Remarkable Court observed that the demo court’s granting a non-fit based mostly on the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine was inappropriate because the problem of the land was “motivated by human intervention” namely snowplowing, such that the ice was not the end result of an entirely all-natural accumulation. Id. at 527.

When pursuing or defending and slip and fall case involving ice or snow, it is crucial to fully grasp and appropriately review the “Hills and Ridges” Doctrine in get to determine whether or not or not the protection applies.