For more than 24 hours, New York has been fast in the grip of a fierce northeast snowstorm. Ten inches of snow fell in the 24 hours ending 8:00 a.m. today… In Broadway and all the avenues and cross-streets… the snow was piled six feet high (and) transit in the remote sections of Brooklyn was badly delayed.
That news report is dated February 14, 1907, although it could just as easily apply to some of the storms we’ve seen in and around New York in recent years. It also mentioned that two men on their way to work were injured: another outcome that rings true today.
Snowstorms present a serious safety risk on multiple fronts. They coat New York roads and highways with snow and ice, which can lead to multi-car collisions and make sidewalks and building steps especially treacherous. Every year we hear about slip and fall cases that result in catastrophic injury and even disability.
NYC Administrative Code Section 16-123 requires landlords to clear snow off their property and shovel their sidewalks within a few hours after the snow falls. The Code also obligates them to place sand, salt, or ash on icy sidewalk and walkways to make them safer for pedestrians. When they fail to do so, and someone is injured as a result, they can be held accountable and ordered to compensate that person for their losses.
Now for the big question: what if you slip and fall while the storm is in progress? You’re on route to the subway station while the snow continues to fall around you, when suddenly you slip on snow-covered ice, fall, and hurt your back. Is the property owner liable?
It depends on when your accident happened. In New York, the following deadlines are in place for snow and ice removal, all of them contingent on when the snowfall ends. The city does not investigate or act on complaints for icy or snow-filled sidewalks while a storm is in progress.
- If the snow stops falling between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., then property owners must clear their sidewalks within four hours.
- If the storm ceases between 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., then sidewalks must be cleared and made reasonably safe within 14 hours.
- For the hours between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., snow must be removed by 11:00 a.m.
The goal is to allow property owners a “reasonable” amount of time to clear the premises and sidewalks of snow and ice hazards. If you slip and fall on a treacherous sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm, then the owner may not be held liable. Your recommended course of action is to speak with a New York personal injury attorney who can review the circumstances surrounding your injury and indicate whether or not you have a case. Call the law office of Jayson Lutzky if you were injured in a winter storm in New York at 718-329-9500. He has a Bronx office and offers free in-person initial consultations.