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Slip and Fall on Ice and Snow in New York City

Today, the New York Times wrote an article about how ice and snow perpetually covers the sidewalks in New York City, particularly the Bronx, making travel across them extremely hazardous. The article details that the City does not do anything about it. The City maintains that it is the private property owner that is responsible for clearing the sidewalks.
But if the property owner is a dead beat, or in foreclosure, and just doesn't care, basically, the sidewalks will remain icy and there's nothing that can be done. It's a shame and more importantly, it's extremely dangerous. Walking on ice is obviously a challenge and even the nimblest of walkers will unfortunately fall now and again. And, what if you wall, and what if you are injured, what are your options?
Well, in New York City, if you fall on an icy sidewalk, you can sue the property owner. In New York City a property owner is responsible for cleaning snow and ice on their property. A property owner is also responsible for cleaning snow and ice off the sidewalk adjacent to their property. A property owner will be liable to a pedestrian who slips and falls on snow and ice on their property or abutting sidewalks or driveways.
New York City Administrative Code Section 16-123 governs the cleaning of sidewalks and states in part:
§ 16-123 Removal of snow, ice and dirt from sidewalks; property owners' duties.
a. Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall, ... remove the snow or ice, ..., or other material from the sidewalk and gutter, the time between nine post meridian and seven ante meridian not being included in the above period of four hours. Such removal shall be made before the removal of snow or ice from the roadway by the commissioner or subject to the regulations of such commissioner.... In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid, may, within the time specified in the preceding subdivision, cause the sidewalk abutting on such premises to be strewed with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall, as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean such sidewalks.
Thus all property owners must clean snow and ice off the sidewalk within four hours after it stops snowing, between the hours of 7 am and 9 pm.
New York Administrative Code Section 7-210 sets forth when property owners will be responsible for failing to clean the sidewalk.
a. It shall be the duty of the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including, but not limited to, the intersection quadrant for corner property, to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.
b. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including, but not limited to, the intersection quadrant for corner property, shall be liable for any injury to property or personal injury, including death, proximately caused by the failure of such owner to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition. Failure to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition shall include, but not be limited to, the negligent failure to... remove snow, ice, ...or other material from the sidewalk.

In short, if the property owner violates the above provisions, you can sue for personal injuries. This would include suing for pain and suffering, medical expense incurred (both in the past and in the future) and any lost wages (past and for the future).
If you have been injured by falling on ice, there are some steps you really need to take to ensure that your lawsuit is as strong as possible.
First, take photos. Photograph everything -- The sidewalks, the streets, the neighboring sidewalks and streets. Videotape it as well. Get close ups. If there was no salt or sand put down, get a close up that shows that.
Second, get the names of any witnesses. This would include anyone that saw you fall or maybe were actually victims themselves. Even if nobody saw you fall, at least get the names and phone numbers of people who came to the scene afterwards and can explain the slippery conditions that existed at the time you fell.
Second, call a lawyer right away. The lawyer will be able to determine the property owner. The lawyer will also be able to go to the scene of the accident and take photos as well. And, if necessary, the lawyer can speak to the witnesses and get affidavits from them, which will help with the formal lawsuit. The attorney can also retain an engineer that can examine the location and help to offer an opinion regarding how the accident occurred.

Given the horrible winter we have had this year, I can only imagine how many people have been injured because property owners lack the common courtesy to do what's right and clear the sidewalks.
If you have been hurt falling on snow and ice, call me and we can discuss any claims you may have. We don't charge anything for discussing such claims over the phone. Or email me if you want and I will get back to you as soon as possible at Tcortelli@StolzCortLaw.com.

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