If you live in New York, you know that winter here is no picnic, especially when it comes to icy roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. While New Yorkers tend to see winter conditions as a part of life, a slip and fall on an icy surface can cause serious injuries, lost income, and expensive medical bills. Often, insurance companies will resist paying for a slip and fall on ice, in which case you should contact an experienced New York premises liability lawyer. Below, we’ll tell you more about how to know who is at fault for your icy slip or fall and explain how to take action.
The Serious Consequences of Icy Slips and Falls
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017 over 8.6 million people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained during a slip or fall. In addition, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2017, of the 20,460 ice, sleet, and snow-related injuries that happened in U.S. workplaces, 2,890 of them happened in New York state.
Because we experience such harsh winters in New York, it only makes sense that injurious slips and falls are more common here, but that doesn’t make them any less catastrophic. Winter slips and falls commonly result in painful whiplash, head injuries, broken bones, or even the need for major surgery. Other times, injuries sustained in a slip or fall become chronic, causing months of whiplash symptoms or ongoing back pain that lasts a lifetime. While sometimes these accidents just happen, other times the property owner is at fault, and if so they must be held responsible for your injuries.
Slip and Fall Responsibility Under New York Law
In many cases, a slip or fall happens because a property owner was negligent–or, in other words, failed to exercise reasonable care to create safe conditions on their premises. In legal terms, reasonable care is defined as the level of care that a prudent person would use in the same situation. Whether the property owner is a private citizen, a business owner, the city or the state, actions like salting or shoveling icy sidewalks, steps, or driveways or clearing a snowy parking lot are all examples of reasonable care.
Under New York law, both private property owners and city owners are required to clear ice and snow from their sidewalks in a reasonable amount of time. If they fail to do so, or if they do so poorly, they may be considered negligent and therefore responsible for your injuries. In New York City, the requirements laid out by the Department of Sanitation are particularly specific: if snowfall ends between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., property owners have four hours to remove ice or snow. If it stops falling between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., the property owner has 14 hours within which to clear the snow. And if snow stops falling overnight, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., the property owner must clear the sidewalk by 11 a.m.
In order to prove negligence in New York, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the property owner owed them a duty of reasonable care, that the property owner failed to uphold this duty, and that this failure directly caused the slip and fall, and thus the plaintiff’s injuries. While all of this may sound straightforward, working with a New York premises liability lawyer is often the best way to ensure that you have the strongest case possible.
What Can I Be Compensated for After a Slip or Fall?
Once liability is established, there are many damages you can recover compensation for, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation or physical therapy costs
- Pain and suffering
- Required home care
- Loss of enjoyment of life or of previous activities due to injuries
The amount of your payment will depend on the specific factors of your case. The best way to get a sense of what you may be able to recover is to work with an experienced New York premises liability lawyer.
Steps to Take After a Slip or Fall on Ice
After your accident, your first step is to seek medical care. Even if you are unsure whether you are injured, you should visit the emergency room or your personal physician right away. Sometimes injuries like whiplash don’t show up until some time after the accident; other injuries such as fractures or concussions can also go unnoticed unless they are evaluated right away. In addition, if you wait to seek medical treatment and later decide to sue the property owner for your injuries, your case will be harder to prove.
If you are well enough to do so after the accident, take photos of the hazardous area and get contact information from anyone who witnessed your slip or fall. If you report the fall to the property owners (especially at a business) they will likely write up a witness report which can later be used as evidence. Make sure you report all details to them and that they are properly recorded. Finally, keep a copy of your medical bills and records, as well as any other bills related to your injuries, such as rehabilitation.
Stay Safe This Winter
We hope that you stay safe while you are out and about this winter. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get to where you’re going, invest in a good pair of boots with strong traction, and try to walk on cleared surfaces as much as possible. While none of these things can guarantee that an injury will be avoided, they can certainly help.
If you have been injured in an accident on the ice, Buttafuoco and Associates, PLLC can help. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case at 1-800-NOW-HURT.