Slip and Fall on Snow or Ice
Winter weather can be extremely problematic and challenging for pedestrians in New York City. Property owners, property managers and New York City have a responsibility to keep sidewalks, walkways and other areas free of snow and ice. Given the greater potential for the accumulation of snow as well as walking surfaces that are more likely to be wet during the winter season, there is definitely a higher risk of serious or even fatal slip and fall accidents for pedestrians. Slip and fall accidents on snow and ice often result in major injuries that may leave victims saddled with considerable medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. They may be unable to work until their injuries heal, which means that they may lose significant income during their recovery time. Some victims may never be able to return to their jobs or even earn a future livelihood. If you or a loved one has been injured, it is important that you contact an experienced New York City slip and fall lawyer who has handled cases involving injuries on snow and ice.
How Can You Protect Your Rights?
If you are injured because of a property owner’s and/or property manager’s negligence, you have a right to seek compensation for your damages. There are a number of steps that a victim injured after slipping on ice or snow can take to protect his or her legal rights:
- Report the incident right away to the property owner or property manager and obtain a copy of the report for your records.
- If you are able, use your cell phone to take pictures of the slippery area you fell on. Take photos and video footage. Be sure to take photos and videos showing other areas where ice and snow are visible. These pieces of evidence can help clearly establish where you fell, how you fell and whether ice and snow were accumulated in the area. If you need to get to the hospital or the emergency room, ask a family member or friend to take the pictures and videos for you.
- It is also a good idea to get eyewitness statements that support your account of the incident. It is best to get independent witnesses to serve as primary witnesses. The testimony given by independent witnesses will also have much more weight and credibility.
You should seek prompt medical attention and treatment for your injuries. This not only gives you the best shot at a quick and complete recovery, but also helps document the nature and extent of your injuries, the type of diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitative therapy and any other continuing treatment that may be required to help you recover.
- Keep track of all expenses that you have incurred as a result of the slip and fall injury. For example, if you had to hire a maid or a gardener to help you or if you need someone to care for your children while you were injured, then, those are expenses you can seek as part of your injury claim.
Snow Removal Laws in New York City
New York City has some very specific snow removal rules for buildings within its boroughs. The goal of these laws is to ensure the safety of the residents, employees and passersby. New York City’s Department of Sanitation requires that snow be removed no later than four hours after the end of snowfall, or not later than 11 a.m., if the snowfall ended after 9 p.m. the night before.
If the snow cannot be removed due to packed ice or other conditions, the building’s management is allowed to place down snowmelt or other products for traction. Once the snow has melted or is able to be removed, property owners or property managers should do so right away. At no time should snow be shoveled onto the city streets. This is illegal in New York City. Keeping the sidewalks clear of snow and ice, especially after a snowstorm can go a long way in protecting pedestrians from dangerous or even deadly slip and fall accidents. The property owner or manager should put up warning signs and rope off the dangerous areas.
When it comes to sidewalks, New York City’s Administrative Code requires all businesses including houses of worship and multi-family dwellings to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks. The duty to remove snow and ice from sidewalks does not apply to residential properties with one, two or three families where the properties are occupied by the owner and are not used for business purposes. In slip-and-fall accidents that are caused by snow and ice and involve such residential properties, the city can be held liable. The city can also be held responsible for any failure to clear the snow or ice that collects in crosswalks and contributes to an injury accident.
Common Injuries in Snow and Ice-related Falls
A slip and fall accident on snow or ice can happen quickly. The fall may be violent and the resulting injuries, severe. Here are some of the most common snow and ice injuries that result in premises liability lawsuits in New York City:
- Broken bones: Slip and fall accidents on snow and ice may result in a single bone fracture or multiple broken bones, which can prove serious. Any type of broken bone injury may take weeks or even months to heal completely. Often, victims need extensive rehabilitative treatments such as physical therapy, which may be costly and not often covered by health insurance policies.
- Leg injuries: Depending on how the fall occurs on snow or ice, victims may suffer any number of injuries from a twisted ankle to sprains and strains or even broken bones in the leg. A broken leg can take months to heal, if it ever heals, depending on your age and the type of fracture you suffer. In some cases, broken bones in the leg don’t heal completely. This is particularly true of complex fractures that occur near the ankle and knee.
- Knee injuries: All injuries to the knees and other joints can be painful and costly to rehabilitate. In severe cases where there is tendon or ligament damage, your mobility may be hampered for months. In some cases, victims may also need knee replacement surgery or other types of surgery to fix the problem.
- Back injuries: Severe back pain may result and affect your entire life. Whether it’s caused by torn muscles or herniated disks, victims may experience severe and chronic pain. Since the back area has so many nerves and muscles, a slip and fall injury may result in major complications.
- Neck injuries: These types of injuries are also common in slip and fall incidents on snow or ice. Neck injuries may prove as debilitating as back injuries or more debilitating as they both involve the spinal cord. Those who suffer neck injuries may be unable to sit, stand or even lie down without pain. When neck muscles are torn or tense, the pain can travel upward resulting in severe headaches or even migraines.
- Traumatic brain injuries: A brain injury is trauma that is caused by a physical blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that may disrupt the brain’s normal function. When individuals slip and fall on ice or snow and hit their head on the ground, they may suffer a concussion. Or they may suffer a much more serious brain injury such as a skull fracture, bleeding in the brain or swelling. Traumatic brain injuries may leave individuals with long-term or even lifelong disabilities.
What are the Key Elements of a Slip and Fall Case?
When you suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident involving snow or ice, there are four important elements that must be proven:
- Duty: This basically means the plaintiff (the injured person) must prove that the defendant had a duty as the property owner and/or property manager to address any conditions that may cause harm to visitors, tenants or guests to their property. This duty stems from the fact that the property owner or property manager had or should have had control of the premises where the incident occurred. In slip and fall accident cases involving snow or ice, you must be able to prove that the property owner and/or property manager had a duty to keep his or her premises free of snow and ice at the time of the incident and before.
- Notice: This is another important element of a slip and fall case. This means that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, about the snow and ice that had accumulated on walkways, stairs etc., but chose to ignore or did not act in time to remove it. In other words, the property owner and/or property manager had notice of the dangerous condition, in this case the snow and ice, but failed to remove it in a timely manner.
- Dangerous condition: The plaintiff must show that a dangerous condition existed at the time of the accident and before and that the property owner and/or property manager knew or should have known about the existing dangerous condition on the premises.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the slip and fall injury was the direct result of the property owner’s and/or property manager’s failure to remove the ice or snow in a timely manner and that he or she (the victim) suffered losses as a result of the injury.
These are complex and challenging cases that require the skill and knowledge of an experienced personal injury lawyer. It is crucial that you get an attorney who has handled these types of cases on your side right away so your legal rights can be best protected.
What is My Claim Worth?
The value or worth of your claim will depend in part on the nature and extent of the injuries and damages you have sustained. For example, if your slip and fall incident did not cause injuries that required you to seek medical treatment or care or take days off work to recover, your claim may not be worth a lot. However, if you did suffer injuries that required emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation and time off work, then your claim will be worth much more. If you have suffered injuries that have resulted in permanent injuries or disabilities that have caused you to lose your job or livelihood, then your claim will be even more significant. Injured victims of slip-and-fall accidents can seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to:
- Medical expenses including emergency treatment and care, hospitalization costs, rehabilitation such as physical therapy and chiropractic care, cost of medication, medical equipment, etc.
- Lost income as a result of days missed from work.
- Lost future income if the victim has been disabled and is unable to return to work or earn a livelihood.
- Loss of life’s enjoyment.
- Loss of consortium of a husband or wife.
- Past and future pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress, etc.
- Permanent lifetime injuries.
In cases where a slip and fall accident has proved fatal, family members of the deceased victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as lost future income, medical and funeral costs, pain and suffering, etc.
Compensation for Injured Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip and fall accident on snow or ice, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our law firm recovered $1,700,000 for a woman who slipped and fell and received no hospital or medical treatment for one month after the accident.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
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