Snow and ice can be serious hazards for pedestrians in New York at this time of year. Despite the potential hazards, however, New York law does not require a property owner to remove ice and snow during a storm. The property owner is not liable for accidents that occur as a result of snow and ice accumulation until an adequate period has passed after the storm to allow the owner to remove the hazard. A property owner who chooses to begin snow and ice removal during the storm does, however, have a duty to do so with reasonable care. If a property owner negligently creates or exacerbates a hazard in trying to remove snow and ice, the property owner can be held liable for injuries that are caused by that hazard.
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department recently considered how this rule is applied in the context of a defense motion for summary judgment in DeMonte v. Chestnut Oaks at Chappaqua.
The plaintiff in this case alleged she was injured when she slipped on ice in the parking lot of her condominium complex. She filed suit against the owner of the complex and the managing agent, and the defendants brought a third-party action against the snow removal company. All three defendants moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion in favor of the complex owner and managing agent, and it dismissed the motion of the snow removal company as academic.
To succeed in a motion for summary judgment, a defendant must make a prima facie showing that they did not create or exacerbate the natural hazards in trying to remove the snow or ice. The complex owner and managing agent did not meet their burden. The appellate division found that they did not make a prima facie case that the snow removal company’s efforts did not create the hazard. The appellate division reversed the trial court’s order granting the summary judgment in favor of the complex owner and managing agent. The appellate division found that the Supreme Court should have denied the snow removal company’s motion as well.
Cases arising from falls on snow and ice are heavily fact-dependent. A case may turn on when the storm ended, exactly where the fall occurred, or whether the property owner tried to remove the snow and ice. Our New York premises liability attorneys know how to investigate cases involving snow and ice. We understand that municipal codes often place specific duties on property owners, especially in regard to public sidewalks abutting the property. We can analyze state and municipal law as it applies to the specific facts to help our clients evaluate the case and determine how to proceed.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
DeMonte v. Chestnut Oaks at Chappaqua, December 2, 2015 New York Court of Appeals
More Blog Entries:
Vidal v. City of New York – Ice Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit Halted, Nov. 8, 2014, New York City Injury Lawyer Blog