Everyone knows how treacherous a patch of black ice or wet walkway in New York can be during the winter. In a city where most people use public transportation or walk to work, we all have to be extremely careful to not lose our footing when ice and snow pileup. A winter slip and fall can go far beyond a few bruises or sprain, as victims tend to slip multiple times and suffer subsequent injuries. But when this occurs, what are your options?
Typically, cleaning up snow and ice in New York is the responsibility of individual property owners and, when they fail to do so, they can be held liable for a victim’s injuries. If you or someone you love suffered a slip and fall due to a negligent property owner, then you need strong legal guidance. Slip and fall cases are complicated and require an extensive knowledge of New York legal codes to receive proper compensation. That is why you should speak to the New York winter slip and fall attorneys at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. With over 50 years of experience, our attorneys can thoroughly explain your rights and prepare a strong case for compensation, either through settlement negotiations or a jury trial. To review your claim with a knowledgeable attorney, contact our office at (212) 986-7353 and schedule a free consultation.
Any fall has the potential to cause serious injuries, especially among older adults. An estimated 20% of all falls lead to a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is because slip and fall victims often collide with hard surfaces like concrete, tile, and furniture, which can compact the force of the fall against their bodies. In addition, it can be extremely difficult to correct yourself when you lose your footing and are in free fall.
But these issues all worsen during the wintertime as victims are more likely to suffer multiple injuries. Victims of winter slip and falls tend to suffer multiple falls. The first occurs when they initially slipped on a patch of ice, snow, or wet floor. If they are not too badly injured, they may attempt to get up on their own, but if they are confused or have a leg injury, they may not have full coordination. As they try to get up and balance themselves, they could suffer another fall, which will only add to their injuries. What started as a broken bone or sprained ankle can then lead to a dislocated hip, brain injury, or spinal cord trauma.
This risk is why property owners should take extra care when scheduling snow removals and cleaning up walkways or parking lots. Throughout most of the year, New Yorkers can expect sidewalks, parking lots, and entranceways to be free of hazards, but winter is another story altogether. Snow, slush, ice, and water can all build up extremely quickly during a storm. While we expect our city’s government agencies to quickly have our sidewalks and parking lots de-iced with salt, they have a lot of ground to cover and may not get to every patch of snow in time. But this is no excuse for a slip and fall, as property owners also have a duty to warn guests of any dangers and quickly respond to safety hazards.
Come wintertime, New Yorkers can become injured in slip and falls caused by:
- Black ice in parking lots
- Snow, ice, or slush on sidewalks
- Wet entranceways and lobbies
- A lack of wet floor signs at building entrances and exits
- Steps hidden by snow
- Slippery or loose rails at staircases or steps
- Blocked disability ramped
Many of these issues should be resolved as soon as a property owner is made aware of them, either by having the winter hazard removed or by placing warning signs where visitors can see them. Failure to do so constitutes an act of negligence under premises liability laws and may make the property owner liable for your injuries, especially if they violated New York safety laws.
In New York City, property owners are required to maintain all areas of their building and remove any hazards in a timely manner. The areas they are responsible for include not just the building itself but also the parking lots, sidewalks in front of their building, and walkways at an entrance or exit. If a property owner, or manager or employee, realizes that there is a patch of ice in a parking lot, then they must schedule removal as quickly as possible or have it removed safely themselves. At the bare minimum, placing a sign near the patch or blocking it off can help prevent winter slip and falls.
However, our local government does understand that not every property owner can be completely aware of every patch of ice or pile of snow all the time. This is why New York City follows a Four Hour Rule, which means that property owners have until four hours after a storm to remove a winter safety hazard. If your fall occurred within that time period, then you may be barred from seeking compensation unless the fall was caused by another safety factor. For example, if you fell because of a broken railing that was unrelated to the snow or ice, then the property owner would still be liable for your injuries.
In addition to a property owner, it is possible for your claim to be with the City of New York itself. Local agencies are responsible for maintaining the roadways and cleaning up snow and ice. If a government employee failed to respond to a report of ice in a timely manner, then you may be able to file a claim against them. However, you will want to speak to an attorney immediately, as there is a strict statute of limitations, or deadline, to file a claim. Typically, when you file a claim against a property owner, you have three years from the date of the accident, but with the city, you have 90-days.
In order to receive compensation for a winter slip and fall accident, you will need to file a premises liability claim. Premises liability laws in New York maintain that property owners can be found liable for a slip and fall if:
- A property owner was legally required to maintain a property (building, sidewalk, parking lot, etc.);
- A property owner was aware of a safety hazard or has good reason to be aware of the hazard;
- The property owner failed to fix or clean up the safety hazard in a timely manner or warn guests of the hazard;
- The safety hazard led to a guest’s injuries; and
- The guest was legally on the property.
Proving all of these elements can be complicated, but not impossible with the right attorney. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, we have experience successfully achieving significant jury verdicts on behalf of clients who were injured in winter slip and falls. We have the knowledge and skill to successfully investigate your case, collect evidence of negligence, demonstrate liability, and prove that you are legally eligible for compensation.
Winter slip and fall accidents can absolutely devastate your life. You likely are dealing with extensive injuries, high medical bills, weeks to months off work, and a great deal of pain and suffering. It is also not uncommon for victims to become disabled due to an accident, either suffering from decreased mobility, chronic pain, or paralysis. If your injuries could have been avoided if a property owner had taken their duties seriously, then you may be able to recover compensation.
Speaking to a NY personal injury attorney as soon as possible is your best option after a fall. At Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, our team of skilled trial attorneys can immediately begin reviewing your case and collecting evidence of wrongdoing. When we take on a new client, we prepare each case as if it will be the subject of a trial and are fully prepared to fight large insurance companies on your behalf. We also do not want to add to any of your financial burdens during a claim, which is why we offer each potential client a free initial consultation and operate on a contingency fee. We will handle all of the upfront costs of your case and only get paid if we win your settlement or jury verdict. To work with one of the top firms in New York, contact our office at (212) 986-7353.