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On an annual basis we see over 20 inches of snowfall every year here in New York. Big blizzards are more common than ever. 

Every time it snows, the sidewalks and streets become hazardous. Slip-and-fall accidents are almost inevitable.

Yet landowners may not have to pay for every slip-and-fall that occurs. The reason boils down to the Ongoing Storm or Storm in Progress doctrine. 

How the Storm in Progress Doctrine Works 

If the storm is in progress, a property owner’s duty to remedy the hazardous conditions it causes gets held. It is not reinstated until the storm ends. At that point, the landowner must remedy the issue within a reasonable period of time. This doctrine applies both to interior and exterior surfaces because it is common for people to track moisture after a storm. Landlords are not required to run after every person mopping up the mess.

Instead, during a storm, the law essentially asserts that everyone out in the storm should exercise extra care.

Remember, personal injury law does not exist to reimburse you for every bad thing that could possibly happen to you. Sometimes bad things happen, and sometimes those bad things lead to injuries. The law only gives offers you a remedy in cases where some party has failed to exercise their reasonable duty of care towards you, resulting in an injury. 

How Defendants Try to Misuse the Storm in Progress Doctrine

The storm in progress doctrine only protects defendants in the event that an accident or injury was caused by a condition or defect created by a storm in progress. It does not apply to precipitation that wasn’t cleared before the storm. Nor does it apply to defects that have nothing to do with storms, such as loose stair railings. 

At times, land owners try to make the doctrine cover scenarios it should not cover. They may also say that they witnessed a “lull” in a storm that was really over and done with and may attempt to use that so-called “lull” as an excuse not to clean up the ice and snow. When this happens, your personal injury attorney may have to bring in experts to show why this was not a reasonable assumption on the landowner’s part. 

Here in New York City, the rule of thumb via ordinance is that property owners must clear snow, ice, dirt, or other material from sidewalks and gutters within four hours of the fall between the hours of 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Property owners aren’t required to clear the defects overnight.

Get Help Today

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you’ll need outstanding representation to work around defendant defenses like the “storm in progress” doctrine.

The sooner you involve our attorneys, the better your case will likely go.

Contact our office to schedule a free consultation today. 

See also:

4 Questions to Ask During a Personal Injury Consultation

5 Myths About New York Personal Injury Cases 

How to Write a Useful Incident Report After a New York Slip and Fall Accident