Ice and snow season has arrived in Upstate New York. As always, with this season comes an increase of slip and fall accidents. These accidents can happen anywhere: shopping mall parking lots, public parks, or even the sidewalk in front of your home.
Although some people walk away with a minor bump or bruise after a fall on ice, it’s not uncommon for fall victims to suffer serious and painful injuries, such as broken bones, fractures, concussion, sprains, or even death. When the injury is serious, the question inevitably arises: can I sue the owner of the property for my injuries?
The answer? Possibly. In most cases, a successful case hinges on whether (i) the property owner negligently failed to keep his property safe, and (ii) you were injured as a result of this failure.
New York Property Owner Responsibilities
Under New York law, property owners have a responsibility to keep their property in “reasonably safe condition.” In wintry weather, this means that they have an obligation to remove ice, snow, slush or any other hazards on their property. What’s more, owners must repair any defects to their property that they knew or should have known about, such as potholes or large cracks. If property owners fail in this duty, they may be legally responsible if their failure causes someone to become injured.
In winter, property owners have a duty to:
- remove snow, ice or slush from sidewalks, stairs, driveways, parking lots, etc.
- scatter salt or other substances to render ice less slippery;
- repair damage to property caused by snow or ice, or erect visible warning signs
- regularly monitor their property for black ice, damage or other hazards
Of course, property owners cannot reasonably be expected to keep their property clear of ice, snow or slush every minute of the day. Thus, in many cases, the question of liability becomes whether the owner had a reasonable amount of time to clear the area before the accident occurred.
Proving Causation in a New York Slip-and-Fall Accident
Once you show that the property owner negligently failed to clear the snow away from the sidewalk, you’ll still need to prove that your injury was caused by the owner’s failure.
Because proving causation can be tricky, if possible, you should take the following steps immediately after your accident to help strengthen your case:
- Take photographs of the exact area where you fell, putting particular focus on any conditions that may have caused the fall.
- Immediately report the accident to the property owner, property manager, or other person in charge of the property. Record their name, position and any comments they may have made after your statement.
- Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident.
- Write down all the details of the accident you can remember at first opportunity. Include information such as how the accident occurred, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, the condition of the property, and the injuries you suffered.
- Save any medical information or reports written by emergency personnel or doctors you visited in relation to injuries suffered because of the fall.
Contact an experienced Albany attorney
If you’ve been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, contact an injury lawyer to determine your rights. Don’t delay – the longer you wait to seek legal help, the more difficult it may become to prove your case. Call me, Paul Giannetti Attorney at Law, at (866) 868-2960 or contact me online for a free consultation.