Injuries on Snow and Ice
Updated: Nov 26, 2018
We all know that winters in New York City and Westchester County can bring snow, sleet, hail, black ice, and a host of other dangerous conditions for pedestrians.
Do you have a lawsuit if you slip and fall on snow and ice?
The short answer is "maybe," and it is important to speak with an experienced snow and ice injury attorney promptly following such an injury.
In New York City, building owners and landlords are required to properly clear and make sidewalks, walkways, entryways, and parking lots in front of or attached to their properties reasonably safe within a few hours of snowfall. Specifically, they should remove slippery or dangerous snow and ice conditions, and place salt, sand or ash to make the sidewalk safer, and take steps to ensure that their walkways, entryways and parking lots are reasonably safe. The law is somewhat nuanced. For example, the sidewalk clearing requirement does not apply to owners of one, two, or three family residential real property (this commonly applies to smaller, private houses as opposed to large buildings), as long as that property is an owner occupied dwelling used exclusively for residential purposes. Due to such exceptions and caveats in the law, It is recommended that you seek an experienced attorney's advice in navigating it.
In Westchester County, the rules vary. Some municipalities have similar rules to New York City and others may not even impose personal liability for slip and fall accidents. Each city, town and village in Westchester County has its own set of rules. For example, the City of Yonkers requires the owner or occupant of any house, building or vacant lot to clear the sidewalks of snow, ice and dirt but has different requirements on when this is to be performed based on whether snowfall stops in the daytime or at night. If the snowfall ends at night, the owner or occupant has until 12:00 P.M. to clear the sidewalk. If the snow stops during the day, the owner or occupant has six hours to clear the sidewalk.
Storm in Progress: In both the New York City boroughs and Westchester County, it is generally not considered the owner or occupant's fault when a pedestrian injures themself due to snow and ice while a storm is in progress, but there are exceptions here as well. The law is complex and this is another reason to seek the help of an experienced snow and ice injury attorney if you are injured in such a fall.
What to do if you are injured after slipping and falling on snow and ice
If you are in a dangerous area (an active driveway or in the street, etc.) and are able, move to safety as best as you can.
Call 9-1-1 and get medical attention! Even if you're not 100% sure you need medical attention, call anyway just to be safe. When the ambulance arrives, tell the Emergency Services Personnel every part of your body that hurts and which parts contacted the ground. It's far better to get checked out and told that your injuries aren't serious than to avoid it and learn later that your untreated injuries got worse.
If you can do so safely, take pictures of the icy/ snowy condition that caused you to fall, or have someone else do it before the condition changes naturally, or before someone cleans it up.
The General Municipal Law gives you 90 days from the accident date to file a Notice of Claim if a municipality (ie: city, town or village) was at fault for not clearing the snow or ice. In the case of privately owned and maintained property, you generally have more time to act. Sometimes, third party contractors are tasked with handling snow removal around buildings, and may bear some or all of the fault. As it may be unclear who is responsible for maintaining an area of sidewalk, it is important to contact a lawyer who is experienced in these injuries sooner rather than later.
If you are injured after slipping and falling on snow or ice, call at (914) 500-7990 or to set up a free consultation. We are happy to make home or hospital visits if you are unable to travel.
Stay warm and stay safe!