Slip-and-fall accidents can happen anywhere and anytime, especially during our icy Manhattan winters. The National Centers for Environmental Information data ranks New York among the top 10 snowiest states in the United States. And the higher the snowfall, the icier the roads and sidewalks.
Even the most careful pedestrians can slip and fall on ice-covered pavement. But what happens if you slip and fall in front of a commercial establishment?
Is that business automatically responsible for your fall? That may not necessarily be the case. This article explains the laws and circumstances that affect a winter slip-and-fall accident in front of a business.
What Are New York’s Premises Liability Laws?
Several elements influence how slip-and-fall accidents are handled in Manhattan. The cause of the fall, the business’s liability, and local slip and fall laws play a pivotal role.
Manhattan business owners know they have to prepare for winter. Keeping sidewalks clear can prevent injuries and unwanted lawsuits for businesses. However, some owners do not address the hazards in time, and customers or passersby may suffer injuries as a result.
Common scenarios that lead to a slip-and-fall on ice
Various situations can lead to pedestrians slipping and falling on icy pathways. These slip-and-fall accidents can result in minor, major, or fatal injuries.
Common causes of slips and falls on ice include:
- Uncleared snowy sidewalks
- Poorly salted or de-iced pavement
- Neglected leaks and drainage issues
- Melting drips from building overhangs
When someone slips and falls on ice, it’s easy to accuse the business of negligence. However, some snowy hazards may be easier to spot than others, which means the owner may have been unintentionally – not intentionally – negligent. Either way, business owners should pay careful attention to and carry out regular building maintenance.
The responsibilities of Manhattan businesses
In Manhattan, property owners are legally obligated to follow snow removal regulations to ensure their properties are safe for visitors. Business owners are held responsible for this task under New York Administrative Code Title 16, Section 16-123.
Property owners are given a reasonable amount of time to carry out this cleanup. The municipal regulations state that if the snow stops falling:
- Between 7 AM and 5 PM, property owners must clear the sidewalks within 4 hours
- Between 5 PM and 9 AM, property owners must clear the sidewalks within 14 hours
- Between 9 PM and 7 AM, sidewalks must be cleared by 11 AM the next day
New York City has established the following snow removal regulations:
- Property owners must clear snow and ice on the sidewalk, and the path created must be at least 4 feet wide
- Property owners must clear a path to the crosswalk – and if an individual owns a corner property, he or she should also clear pedestrian ramps
- Property owners must shovel bus stops and fire hydrants in front of their properties
Property managers and owners face fines if they disregard these rules. A negligent property owner may be fined between up to several hundred dollars, depending on the number of previous violations.
How Can Injured Victims Seek Compensation?
If a business owner’s negligence caused your slip and fall injuries, you may be able to seek compensation under the law. Injured victims can file a premises liability claim. This is a legal action that someone files after being injured on someone else’s property due to dangerous conditions.
In Manhattan, you can seek economic damages for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can help you hold the responsible party accountable by means of a premises liability claim.
The compensation you may receive can cover the following losses:
- Medical bills
- Lost salary or wages
- Physical therapy
- Assistive devices like crutches, braces, or wheelchairs
- Transportation costs for medical appointments
You may also be allowed to seek non-economic damages for pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
Sometimes, a slip-and-fall incident can be fatal. When such an accident occurs, a representative of the deceased can seek compensation for wrongful death.
Damages in a wrongful death case may include:
- Funeral and burial costs, like the casket, cemetery plot, and memorial services
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s injury
- Loss of financial support
- Punitive damages – awarded in extraordinary cases to punish the responsible party and deter similar conduct in the future
- Legal expenses like attorney fees and court costs
Who Is Liable for a Slip-and-Fall in Front of a Business?
Determining liability for a slip-and-fall that took place on private property involves examining various factors. When a slip and fall victim decides to pursue a premises liability claim, it must be proven that the business owner behaved negligently.
To establish liability in a slip and fall case, the injured party must prove:
- The property owner or business had a duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors
- The liable party failed to address hazardous conditions promptly
- The slip-and-fall incident was the direct result of the hazard in front of the business, and;
- The injured party suffered damages, like medical expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering
Determining liability is not always easy. As previously mentioned, a commercial property owner or manager may be held liable for a slip and fall injury. However, some situations can free the business from responsibility.
For example, a property owner may not be held liable when he did not have reasonable opportunity to address the issue. The property owner may not have even been aware of the slip and fall hazard’s existence.
Additionally, many businesses in Manhattan may hire a snow removal company. If the slip and fall injury was a result of the snow removal company’s negligence, the responsibility may be shared between the company and the business owner.
Comparative Negligence in New York
Business owners may attempt to shift the blame onto the injured victim. The owner could argue that the victim knew about the danger, failed to exercise caution, or acted recklessly. Fortunately for slip and fall victims, New York follows the rule of pure comparative negligence.
Pure comparative negligence allocates a percentage of fault to the victim and the at-fault party. If the injured party is 30 percent at fault, then the compensation awarded will be reduced by 30 percent. That’s good news for slip and fall victims in Manhattan. Other states have negligence laws in place that prevent individuals from seeking compensation even if they are partially at fault.
Slip and fall victims may assume they do not share any fault in the accident, but business owners may argue the same thing. Thus, it’s advisable to consult a personal injury attorney. Experienced attorneys can evaluate your case and help determine your percentage of fault.
Contact Manhattan Slip and Fall Lawyers for a Free Case Review
Slip and fall injuries on the Manhattan ice can be physically painful and financially costly. Proving negligence in these cases can be complex. Fortunately, you do not need to handle these tasks on your own.
Cellino Law’s slip and fall lawyers have the expertise and experience to help you build a strong case and fight for compensation. We are ready to take on your case, hold the responsible parties accountable, and pursue justice for you and your loved ones.
When you choose Cellino Law, you can trust that your slip and fall case is in good hands. Call us at (888) 888-8888 to schedule your free case review.
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