New York City has winters with cold weather and a lot of snow and ice. Unfortunately, with snow and ice there is an increased risk of falling and suffering an injury. At Jaroslawicz and Jaros we have received many calls from clients asking what rights you have to be compensated for your injuries if you slipped and fell due to snow and/or ice.
One minute you are walking to or from work, school or shopping and the next moment you are lying on the sidewalk with back pain or with a fractured arm, wrist or leg. When you slip and fall on steps or sidewalks covered with snow and ice you may suffer from serious and disabling injuries.
It is common knowledge that snow and ice are slippery. So, does that mean if you slip and fall and injure yourself while out walking in the winter you have nobody to blame but yourself? The answer to this question is everyone’s least favorite lawyer cop-out: it depends.
If you fall down and hurt yourself while cleaning off your own front steps you probably have nobody to blame but yourself and Old Man Winter. But, if you live in the building where you fell, and it is in no way your responsibility to clear away snow and ice, you may have a case against those who are responsible.
One of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents are ice and snow conditions. Surfaces covered with snow and ice, whether on sidewalks, outdoor steps or parking lots, are hazardous for pedestrians. What is known as “black ice”, which is often difficult to see and avoid, is especially dangerous and often causes falls resulting in serious injuries.
Accidents like these typically happen on sidewalks or steps in front of residential buildings or businesses or in parking lots. Property owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care when it comes to maintaining these areas and promptly removing the snow and ice to reduce the risk of falls and injuries. After a snowstorm, property owners are expected to remove snow and treat icy patches in a “timely” manner. The New York City Administrative Code requires that property owners be responsible for cleaning snow and ice from their sidewalks.
When adjoining property owners ignore snow and ice accumulations, or in some cases even make things worse, they may be held responsible to compensate anyone who suffers an injury due to that snow and ice condition. As in every personal injury negligence case the question or issue is always-what was “reasonable” to expect of the property owner? Did the property owner act reasonably?
What is a reasonable time to clear snow and ice? In New York City property owners have four (4) hours to clear snow from public sidewalks after a daytime snowfall and if the snowfall stops during the evening or nighttime they must clear the sidewalks by 11:00 a.m. the next morning.
What is reasonable for snow or ice conditions in parking lots or on steps on commercial or residential property? Were reasonable steps taken to make the area safe? Did they have enough time to clean and clear the area? Was salt or sand used? Was snow piled up and then caused to melt and re-freeze into “black ice”? Is there a depression that causes melting snow and water to accumulate and become “black ice”? These are just some of the questions your attorney needs to answer in determining what is called “liability”-is the owner of the property responsible to compensate you for your injury?
Many property owners have contracts with companies that perform snow and ice removal to keep their parking lots and sidewalks clean. Whether the owner hires a company to maintain and clean the snow and ice or the owner has his own employees do the work the question is always whether the property owner’s conduct was “reasonable” under the circumstances.
Snow and ice cases do not stop once you get inside the front door. If you slip and fall on water that has accumulated inside a place of business because people have tracked in snow that later melted, you may be able to seek compensation from the property owner if they knew about the wet floor, but did nothing about it.
The examples above are some of the most common sorts of scenarios people who call us have experienced. But if what happened to you does not fall neatly into one of the clear-cut categories above, don’t despair! There are a lot of strange things that happen when the weather gets weird, so just because what happened to you was unusual does not mean you are not eligible for compensation for your injuries.
In helping you to determine if you have a viable case your attorney will need to obtain the weather reports to see when it last rained or snowed before your accident and what the temperatures were. If you can obtain photos of the area as it looked around the time of the accident it would be helpful to your case as snow and ice conditions change so rapidly.
If you or someone you know was injured as a result of slipping or falling on a sidewalk, steps, or parking lot due to snow and ice you may be entitled to recover for your medical bills, lost earnings as well as for your pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury attorney at Jaroslawicz and Jaros can explain your rights and help you determine whether you have a valid claim to be compensated for your injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured due to a snow or ice condition and are in need of legal assistance, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212-227-2780, or toll free in New York 1-800-269-2780, or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call to ensure that you do not waive your right to compensation. Or you can email us at [email protected].
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