Snow and Ice Dangers – Can More Than One Party Be at Fault?
With plummeting temperatures come snow and ice, and the related slip-and-fall dangers. It is the responsibility of residents, property owners, and business owners to keep public areas around their buildings safe.
The New York City Sanitation Department (DSNY) calls for the clearance of a 48” wide path to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers, and prohibits residents and businesses from pushing snow and ice into the gutter, street, crosswalk, or pedestrian ramp, where it could present further dangers. Hydrants are also to be kept clear for emergency responders.
Clearly, property owners are liable for their grounds, but what if your own actions played a part in your accident? Even if you feel your carelessness or lack of attention contributed to your injury, property owners share in the blame when snow and ice have not been properly cleared.
This type of shared blame introduces a legal concept that is often overlooked—comparative negligence. While other states, such as New Jersey, do not allow for compensation when a party is determined to be more than 50% at fault, New York juries assign proportionate shares of responsibility when making their decisions. Having some fault in the matter, whether it is a slip-and-fall case or any other accident, does not preclude you from receiving monetary compensation for injuries you sustained. Even in cases where the plaintiff is found 90% at fault, monetary recovery is available based upon the 10% fault of the other party.
Langsam Law recently settled a case for a client who fractured her ankle when she slipped and fell on broken-up ice in front of her apartment building. The building’s procedure was to chop up ice that had formed on the sidewalk, but they had not shoveled and disposed of the ice. While the plaintiff admitted that she saw the ice prior to falling, which gave her some responsibility in the matter, the property owner was also negligent for failing to remove the ice, allowing her to recover for her injuries and pain and suffering.
If you experience a slip-and-fall injury, you need not shoulder all of the blame. ContactLangsam Law. In the meantime, please be careful out there. As a property owner, you can keep your neighbors safe and avoid a lawsuit by being vigilant about snow and ice removal. For DSNY guidelines and removal timeframes, visit http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/dsny/snow/stormresponse.shtml.
Note: Prior results do not guarantee similar results.