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Cold Weather

Cold Weather Increases Risk of Slip and Fall Accidents for New Yorkers

New York City may not see torrents of lake-effect snow like upstate New York or Buffalo, but it can see considerable amounts of rain, sleet, and snow, as well as plenty of frost and ice.

While these conditions are a part of life on the East Coast, and an essential component to the coveted White Christmas, cold temps and poor weather create hazards that significantly increase risks of injuries caused by slips and falls

Slip & Fall Accidents: Quick Facts

Slip and fall accidents are a leading cause of injury in the home, public spaces, and the workplace. According to the CDC, slip and falls:

  • Can be costly. Fall-related injuries cost $45,000 on average to treat and account for more than $50 billion in medical costs annually.
  • Cause serious injuries. Approximately 1 in 5 falls result in a serious injury such as a broken bone, hip fracture, or traumatic brain injury. Each year, 3 million Americans are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries and over 800,000 require hospitalization.
  • Increase with age. Older adults are more likely to slip and fall, experience a fall-related injury on the job, and suffer serious injuries.
  • Have far-reaching consequences. Slip and falls don’t just result in medical bills; victims can also face significant pain and suffering, lost income, and long-term or permanent disability. Many people who fall also become afraid of falling, which can cause them to cut down on everyday activities, which can increase their risk of falling even more.
  • Happen to people with certain risk factors. Research has shown that certain conditions can contribute to falling, including lower body weakness, vision problems, vitamin D deficiency, difficulties with walking, and use of medicines that affect balance.

How Cold Weather Can Increase Slip & Fall Risks

The condition of the places we visit and traverse by foot can be a major risk factor for slip and fall accidents. When premises are poorly maintained, the risks are even greater.

Given the risks, businesses and property owners have an obligation to address the various winter-related hazards that pose a foreseeable risk of harm. Some examples include:

  • Wet and slippery floors in entryways, lobbies, and stores
  • Icy walkways and parking lots
  • Wet or icy stairs
  • Accumulation of snow or ice that cover tripping hazards

Cold weather can also compound the risks of winter-related hazards in other ways. For example:

  • People may walk faster to get out of the cold
  • Sidewalks or covered spaces may be more crowded
  • People may walk with hands in pockets or underarms

Visit our blog: Winter Safety Tips to Avoid Slip and Falls.

Property Owner’s Duty for Winter Weather Hazards

Victims injured in weather-related slip and falls may have grounds to bring personal injury claims against the party that owned, leased, or exercised control over the property. These cases are based on premises liability, which is the financial responsibility premises owners have for injuries that occur on their land.

In a premise’s liability action, plaintiffs allege that their injuries were caused by a defendant’s failure to uphold its duty to keep property in a reasonably safe condition. Plaintiffs need to prove that:

  1. The defendant knew or should have known about a dangerous condition;
  2. The defendant failed to take reasonable measures to fix, replace, or warn about the dangerous condition; and
  3. The dangerous condition caused injury.

Being able to show how a property owner breached their duty is essential to a winning claim. It is also a fact-specific issue that can look different in every case. In claims involving winter-related slip and falls, for example, it may involve showing that a property owner:

  • Failed to clean up snow or slush brought into its store in a timely manner.
  • Did not have policies for staff to regularly inspect the property and clean up slippery floors.
  • Knew about a broken pipe leaking water onto a walkway or parking lot but did nothing to prevent ice from forming in the cold weather.
  • Failed to warn guests about a tripping hazard that became obscured by snow.

Premises cases can be further complicated when they involve slips and falls that happen on slippery sidewalks. That’s because what’s considered a reasonable effort to remove snow or ice depends on circumstances such as the location of an accident and what local codes or ordinances apply.

NYC Administrative Code sidewalk rules, for example, require owners and managers of property abutting a sidewalk to remove snow and ice that naturally accumulates. While it may not be reasonable to expect a property owner clean up all snow within 10 minutes of a storm, it is arguably reasonable to expect that they remove snow within a day, especially if the area receives a lot of foot traffic.

Injured in a Winter Slip & Fall? Call for a FREE Consultation.

If your or someone you love were injured in a slip and fall accident involving snow, ice, or other weather-related issues, an experienced attorney from The Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C. can help.

Since 1983, our firm has recovered over half a billion in compensation for victims across NYC – including millions in cases involving premises liability and negligent property owners. We can review your case and discuss your available options during a FREE, no-risk consultation.

To speak with a lawyer, call (212) 577-9325 or contact us online.

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