When you see a huge icicle hanging off the edge of a tall, stately building, you can’t help but be awed. There’s a certain frozen majesty about them, and some icicles look like they belong on a snow-themed movie set instead of Lower Manhattan or the Bronx.
Unfortunately, large icicles can be just as deadly as they are beautiful. Whenever the weather warms temporarily, they gradually soften, although their tips remain sharp and dangerous. Eventually, they can fall and inflict serious injury on anyone passing below. In January 2014, a jewelry shop employee was walking through Midtown when a falling icicle slashed him in the face, horrifying witnesses and covering the sidewalk with blood.
What causes dangerous icicles to form?
Icicles generally form because the attic or top floor of the building is poorly insulated or not ventilated properly, causing sections of the roof to warm up. This warmth melts accumulated snow, which softens and runs down to the edge, which is colder and freezes the dripping water. The result is an icicle.
During the harsh New York winter months, most pedestrians will have their eyes on the ground to avoid slipping on icy patches or tripping over frozen chunks of snow. In comparison, few will be looking up to see what could be hanging over their heads, ready to come loose and fall any minute.
Who is liable?
When it comes to liability for injuries caused by falling icicles, the law treats this type of accident as any other premises liability case. New York property owners have a duty to keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition and take steps to remove unsafe elements that they should be aware of. This includes removing the icicles and posting notices warning the public that a dangerous condition exists.
Falling icicles have caused injuries that include but are not limited to:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Severe bruising
Even if they are not hit by the icicle, a pedestrian may trip over the chunks of shattered ice on the sidewalk and suffer significant trip and fall injuries. It all adds up to a single message for property owners: icicles are treacherous and represent an accident waiting to happen. As such, they must be removed in a safe and timely manner.
Anyone injured by a falling icicle can seek compensation from the property owner for their medical bills, loss of wages, and even loss of a loved one. If this happens to you, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who will fight for the damages you are entitled to and help you get what you need to recover. Jayson Lutzky is a highly experienced personal injury and accident lawyer with an office in the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx. He offers free in-person initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to learn more. In the case of serious injury, home and hospital visits may be available.