Winter storms in New York lay down beautiful carpets of glistening snow. Despite this splendor, hazards lurk. A property owner has an important duty to keep the premises safe, cleaning sidewalks of snow and ice. Injuries are devastating: serious fractures of arms, wrists, hips, and ankles, disabling back injuries, fatal head and brain injuries. Premises liability law requires negligent property owners to compensate those injured by slipping on ice.
Slip and fall accidents on ice cause thousands of serious injuries every year. It is important to protect your legal rights to compensation for your lost wages and medical bills, as well as for your pain, suffering and the inconvenience of prolonged medical care.
It is extremely important to document the cause of your fall as soon as possible. In this day of cell phones with cameras, it is easy to take photographs of the conditions that caused the fall. If the injured person cannot take the pictures then a friend or relative should do so as soon as possible after the accident. This is especially important in snow and ice cases, because the dangerous conditions can change rapidly from day to day.
Whenever taking pictures of an accident scene remember that more is better, from all angles, and especially with landmarks, such as building fronts, fire hydrants or telephone poles, in the pictures so the viewer can know where the dangerous sidewalk is located in reference to these landmarks.
The property owner who is responsible for the sidewalk or common area where snow and ice accumulate must take steps within a reasonable time after the ending of the snowstorm to make the walkways safe. In New York City the snow removal must be done within four hours, not counting from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. This includes removing the snow and spreading sand or salt to provide traction for any remaining ice, or ice that may develop later, for example refreeze of meltdown of a snow pile when the weather changes and the temperature rises, then drops, causing the treacherous "black ice" that is so difficult to see on a walkway.
It is urgent to obtain the advice of an attorney immediately. In ice-caused slip and fall cases, conditions change quickly. Witnesses and other information may be lost with the passage of time. In premises liability cases, it is crucial to speak with an attorney before giving any statements or information to the insurance company investigators who are looking for a way to avoid responsibility for their insured's own negligence, and blame it on you or your injured loved one.