Snow & Ice Slip and Fall Lawyer

New York City becomes a winter wonderland starting in November and lasting all the way until April some years. Inches of ice and snow line the streets and sidewalks throughout the city. New Yorkers are used to slippery surfaces and snow-related hazards – but does that mean they can’t collect after a snow or ice accident? In certain situations, the owner of the property with the dangerous condition may be liable for victims’ related injuries, such as broken bones from a slip and fall. Working with a lawyer from Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein, P.C., can help you understand your rights after a wintertime slip and fall.

Property Owner Duties in Snowstorms

Many slip and fall cases are relatively straightforward. One person slips or trips on a dangerous property condition and sustains an injury. The owner of the property pays for damages because he or she was negligent in maintaining the land, resulting in the accident. When snow and ice are involved, however, things get more difficult. It’s impossible to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on sidewalks and in parking lots. No one can control the weather. Therefore, how can the law hold property owners responsible for snow and ice slips and falls?

Negligence is the key to premises liability claims involving snow or ice. A property owner may be negligent in snow/ice-related accidents if a premises condition causes an unnatural accumulation of precipitation. For example, if an inefficient roofing system creates an ice dam that leads to a ceiling collapse, the owner may be responsible. In cases involving property defects such as sloping parking lots, broken gutter systems, clogged drains, or other abnormal dangers that result in a slip and fall, the owner may be liable. What constitutes “reasonable care” for snow and ice removal depends on the property, location, and time of year, among other things.

There are steps a property owner or roadway maintenance crew can take to make ground surfaces safe for pedestrians despite snowfall. It is the property owner’s duty to take these steps and prevent foreseeable harms or else accept liability for accidents. Property owners in New York City can arrange snow and ice removal services to clear precipitation from common areas such as sidewalks and entryways. They can provide adequate outdoor lighting, and repair issues that may lead to unusual accumulations. They can also put up “Slippery Floor” warning signs inside the building to prevent slip and falls from ice and water that customers track inside.

Comparative Negligence in Snow and Ice Cases

The most common defense in a snow and ice slip and fall claim is the injured party’s comparative negligence in causing the incident. A property owner could argue that a customer contributed to his/her own injuries by failing to pay adequate attention to where he or she was walking. For example, if the customer was texting while walking and walked straight into a visible ice patch, then the pedestrian may be partly at fault. The courts will take the plaintiff’s own carelessness into account when determining a settlement or judgment award.

New York is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that a plaintiff may recover damages regardless of his/her percentage of fault. However, the courts will reduce the plaintiff’s recovery by an amount that’s equivalent to the plaintiff’s fault. In other words, a plaintiff who is 20% at fault for a slip and fall would receive $80,000 of a $100,000 award. A good attorney may be able to reduce your amount of fault for a snow or ice slip and fall accident in New York City. Contact us to learn more.