With our region’s first significant snowfall of the season come and gone, it’s time to start preparing for slippery sidewalks. As the weather gets colder, pedestrians will be faced with winter walking hazards capable of causing serious accidents and injuries. In New York City and it’s boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, there are laws to protect pedestrians who become victims of slip and fall injuries, holding premise owners who neglect to maintain a safe walking surface responsible for damages sustained on their property.
Watch Out For Winter Slip and Falls!
Slip and fall accidents can happen at any time, all year round. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an average of 2.3 million people visit the emergency room every year for fall-related injuries, with at least 662,000 resulting in hospitalizations. Winter, however, poses its own hazards that highly increase the likelihood of slip and fall accidents: ice and snow.
Temperatures in New York are far from consistent during the winter season. With snow and ice melting and freezing over and over, the streets of NYC become battlegrounds for pedestrians just trying to stay on their feet. Black ice and packed down snow can be extremely dangerous for walkers, setting them up to sustain serious injuries such as:
- traumatic brain injuries
- spinal cord damage
- trauma to neck and back
- broken bones
- muscle, joint, and damages to soft tissues
- lacerations and deep bruising
While some slip and fall victims only sustain damage to their pride, others sustain injuries that can be life-threatening and causing permanent neurological and/or physical disabilities. Pedestrians can take various precautions to prevent slip and fall accidents while walking but they can do little to protect themselves if forced to walk on surfaces caked with dangerous snow and ice.
Premise Owner’s Duty
NYC property and business owners have a duty to provide clear and safe walking areas both in and outside of their buildings. These areas include sidewalks, parking lots, roofs, stairs, ramps, and any other areas where pedestrians are permitted to walk on or under on their property. Winter clearance regulations for NYC include clearing ice and snow from these areas during the following time frames:
- snow that falls between 7:00 am – 4:59 pm within four hours of when snow stops
- snow that falls between 5:00 pm – 8:59 pm within 14 hours of when snow stops
- snow that falls between 9:00 pm – 6:59 am by 11:00 am the next day
To prevent slip and fall accidents caused by melted ice and snow tracked into buildings, business and property owners must provide appropriate weather mats and clean up methods to contain the mess to prevent slip and fall accidents from occurring.
Preparing For Slippery Streets
Pedestrians should not rely on the law alone when it comes to protection against slip and fall accidents. Aside from negligent property owners who do not clear their properties adequately, weather patterns and temperatures can change quickly throughout a winter day. It’s important to prepare for the possibility of slippery conditions whenever out walking in the city, consider winter walking safety tips to stay safe:
- Wear high traction shoes to combat icy patches and slippery snow
- Walk on well-lit paths
- Stay alert to where you are walking and what’s in front of you
- Step down off of curbs instead of out to prevent your feet from sliding
- Keep your hands free to brace yourself if you fall
- Use handrails when going up and down stairs
- Avoid distractions such as cell phones that take your eyes off the sidewalk
Know Your Rights
In New York City, slip and fall injuries happen every day. It can sometimes be tough to prove a property owner is liable when it comes to injuries caused by a slip and fall accident, particularly when snow and ice conditions can vary greatly within a short period of time. If your injury was a result of one of the following instances, you may be eligible for compensation due to negligence:
- Sidewalks that were cleared improperly and/or not cleared from snow and ice
- Properties with long-standing slippery conditions
- Icy conditions resulting from a water leak
- Uneven walking areas that allow water to pool and freeze
Victims of slip and fall accidents on properties have rights. If you or a loved one has sustained a serious injury due to a slip and fall accident, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to support you. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343 for a free legal consultation to review your case and options.