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Winter in New York City: Who Is Responsible for Keeping Icy Sidewalks Clear?

New York City residents know to beware when walking on sidewalks after a snowfall. But just because most New Yorkers have experienced wintry conditions before, however, does not mean that accidents do not occur. Even pedestrians walking carefully can suffer a fall on the slick surfaces that come with unmaintained sidewalks and parking lots during winter.

In order to prevent injuries from slips and falls on icy sidewalks, New York City created a law in 2003 that imposed a duty for property owners to maintain their adjoining portion of the sidewalk in "a reasonably safe condition." This includes removing ice, snow, dirt or any other hazard. Property owners also have a duty to replace or correct any defects in the sidewalk, such as potholes. Commercial property owners must also remove snow and ice from parking lots and inside the store itself. For example, a grocery store must keep its aisles free from hazards and any connected parking lots clear.

If the property owner does not keep the property in a reasonably safe condition, he or she can be held responsible for an injury resulting from a slip or fall.

Requirements to Recover Damages for Slip and Falls in Ice or Snow in NY

A person's natural tendency after a fall due to ice is to shrug it off and pretend like it never happened. Yet, a fall can be more than embarrassing; serious injuries can occur even if they are not readily apparent at the time.

Of course, not all snow or ice slip and falls will result in a lawsuit. However, when a serious injury does occur because of the fault or negligence of a commercial property owner, the victim may be able to receive compensation to help with medical expenses and other costs associated with the injury. A slip-and-fall victim can recover if the injury that occurred was a foreseeable result of the dangerous condition, and the property owner:

  • Caused the dangerous condition
  • Knew of the dangerous condition
  • Should have known of the dangerous condition

The "should have known" requirement depends largely on the length of time the dangerous condition existed. For example, if surrounding property owners had all removed snow and ice from their sidewalks at the time of the injury, it would be evidence that the lone property owner who failed to act was negligent.

In cases of injuries involving private property and negligent property owners, it also can be difficult to prove slip-and-fall cases. If you have been injured because of the failure of a property owner to remove ice and snow, contact an experienced premises liability attorney to explore your legal options.

Contact trolman, glaser & lichtman, PC

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