Harsh winters are a part of every New Yorker’s life so it may come as no surprise that countless people are injured each winter by unsafe snow or ice conditions on sidewalks and other pedestrian walking surfaces.
While New York City Administrative Code §7-210 places the duty to clear snow and ice on the landowner (with certain exceptions), victims of slip and falls due to snow or ice will likely face certain hurdles when bringing a case. For example, some Courts have held that a property owner will not be held liable for accidents as a result of snow or ice accumulation until a reasonable period of time has passed once the storm ends. In this regard, New York City Administrative Code § 16-123 is often cited, which essentially provides that a property owner has four hours after the snow-fall ends to remove the snow or ice (excluding the hours of 9:00 pm and 7:00 am). Naturally, if a reasonable period of time must pass from the end of the storm in order to hold the landowner accountable, the landowner will rarely be held liable for accidents taking place while the storm is underway (commonly referred to as the “storm in progress” defense). Moreover, certain Courts have held that a landowner may not be liable even if they fail to remove all the snow or ice (regardless of when the landowner performed snow/ice removal). It is critical in every snow and ice case to obtain weather reports to counter any defense concerning the timing of the landowner’s snow removal efforts. With that said, pedestrians injured due to snow or ice will have a greater chance of if they can demonstrate that the landowner’s snow/ice removal efforts were incomplete (if done at all) and/or done so in such a way that made the area more hazardous.
Another common issue with respect to slip and falls as a result of snow or ice is whether a third-party snow removal contractor may be held liable. The general rule is that a pedestrian who is not a party to the contract with the snow removal contractor will not be entitled to recover from such a contractor unless one of the following prongs are met: 1) the contractor launches a force or instrument of harm (essentially by creating or exacerbating the snow or ice condition); 2) the injured pedestrian detrimentally relied on the continued performance of the contractor’s duties; and/or 3) the contractor has entirely displaced another party’s duty to maintain the premises safely. As such, it is important to explore whether a third-party is responsible for snow and ice removal on the property where the accident occurred and to obtain any contract/agreement between the contractor and landowner.
If you, a loved one or a member of your community has been injured due to a dangerous snow or ice condition, please do not hesitate to call FARELLA MASCOLO PLLC at 212-287-1277 for a free consultation.
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