With winter on the horizon, it won’t be long before city pedestrians will begin to routinely encounter ice-covered and slippery walkways, sidewalks, parking lots, stairways and store entrances.
While ice is a natural condition, commercial businesses, government agencies and private homeowners owe a duty of care to invitees and guests that requires keeping the property safe and free of known hazards. Property owners of course aren’t expected to stand outside and catch snowflakes in the air as they fall. However, when property owners are aware that ice has accumulated, they have to address it in a reasonable time to prevent foreseeable injury.
As it pertains specifically to snow on public sidewalks abutting private property, N.Y. Code Section 16-123 requires every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person in charge of any lot of ground to remove snow within four hours of accumulation during the day. If the snow fall occurs after 5 p.m., property owners have until 11 a.m. the next day to clear the sidewalk.
With regard to injuries resulting from a slip-and-fall on ice and snow in parking lots, storefront sidewalks and commercial property steps, our experienced New York City premises liability attorneys will work to determine whether the owner or manager took reasonable steps to ensure safety of guests. We will analyze whether there was ample opportunity to remove the snow and ice, whether the path was wide enough and whether sand and salt was placed as a precautionary measure.
Slip-and-falls in New York City have the potential to result in serious and potentially disabling injuries. Among those:
- Back injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Tailbone or hip fractures
- Broken legs
- Ankle sprains or fractures
- Broken wrists or elbows
- Groin injuries
- Torn ligaments in knees and shoulders
These cases tend to be more complex than they appear on the surface. It’s imperative to consult with an experienced injury attorney.
In the recent New York City case of Vidal v. City of New York, plaintiff’s claim for injury due to slip-and-fall ultimately failed because he was unable to prove the condition was present for a sufficient time to have remedied the situation.
According to court records from the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell on a patch of ice on property belonging to the New York City Housing Authority.
The housing authority sought summary judgment largely on the basis of supervisor testimony that he and his crew had taken reasonable measures to maintain a safe site for visitors. Namely, they had shoveled snow, removed ice and salted and sanded the parking lot after a snow fall the day before the fall. He reported all icy conditions were addressed at that time. Further, he asserted the housing authority did not have actual or constructive notice of the icy condition prior to the fall.
Initially, the trial court denied defendant’s request for summary judgment to dismiss the complaint. However, appellate court reversed unanimously.
The appellate court noted plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact. Namely, he presented no evidence the housing authority created the condition, that the condition was readily apparent or that it existed for a long enough time the authority had opportunity to remedy the hazard. Additionally, plaintiff did not describe with any specificity the alleged condition that caused him to fall. Further, the court found no merit with his argument that the parking lot was poorly-lit, as defendant presented evidence the exterior lights were expected and deemed functional several days prior to the fall.
This case reveals how the simple act of slipping, falling and suffering injury on someone else’s property is not enough to be successful in a premises liability claim. There is a specific legal threshold that must be met in order to pursue these cases. A veteran attorney can help guide you through the process.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Vidal v. City of New York, Nov. 6, 2014, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department
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Young v. U.S. – Federal Park Injury Claim Will Proceed, Nov. 8, 2014, New York City Injury Lawyer Blog