Fall Down Accidents and The Storm In Progress Rule – Part I
With the winter months now upon us, we return to the subject of Slip and Fall accident cases. Fall down cases represent a significant percentage of the cases in our office. Obviously, fall down cases happen with greater frequency at this time of year, due to the presence of snow and ice. The White Plains accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman are well versed in how to best help you if you are the unfortunate victim of this type of accident.
Is the Owner Responsible to Pay Damages in a Slip and Fall Accident?
In New York, an owner is required to maintain property in a reasonably safe condition. At the same time, however, a property owner is not a guarantor of the safety of any particular person on the property. Therefore, the fact that you fall and are injured on someone else’s property does not mean in itself that that owner is responsible to pay damages. In order to hold someone responsible for your injuries, proof is required that there was a visible and apparent dangerous condition which caused you to fall. The plaintiff is also required to prove one of three things: that the property owner created the dangerous condition; that the property owner knew of the condition; or that the dangerous condition existed for a sufficient period of time such that the property owner should have known of the condition.
The Storm in Progress Rule
The presence of snow or ice on any surface invariably makes that surface more dangerous to navigate, and never more so when precipitation is actually falling. With that in mind, we focus on the main theme of this month’s post – The Storm in Progress Rule. Next month we’ll discuss fall down accidents in more general terms, including the very confusing issue of falls on publicly owned sidewalks which private landowners may nevertheless be required to maintain, and when that landowner can and cannot be sued for failing to do so.
The Rule states that a landowner can defend a fall down accident on his property with the claim that there was no obligation to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition during the actual precipitation event. Under this Rule, the duty to maintain the property – to clean the snow or ice, to warn of its presence, or to apply an ice melting agent such as rock salt – does not begin until the passage of a reasonable period of time after the precipitation event ends. Various municipalities have ordinances which define that passage of time; in New York City, for example, a property owner is permitted a four hour period to remedy snow and ice conditions on the sidewalk which fronts commercial property, and there is no obligation at all to maintain that property between the hours of 9PM and 7AM. Complexities of the Rule involve the issue of when the event ends, i.e., is a lull or temporary cessation of precipitation the end of a storm (it generally is not).
Stated another way, this means that the landlord of your apartment complex is not obligated to clear the parking lot if it is still snowing, even during the morning hours when tenants can be expected to walk to their parked vehicles. A less well known aspect of the Rule is that it also applies to the interior of one’s property. Therefore, your office building, the store where you shop, or a government owned building such as a public library, is not required to lay out mats during a rainstorm, as it has no obligation to take constant measures to remedy the condition during the storm.
Snow & Ice Related Fall Down Case Attorneys
The accident attorneys at Worby Vecchio Edelman have years of experience in handling snow, ice and rain related fall down cases, and know how to navigate the way through this Rule. We regularly retain expert meteorologists to interpret publicly available weather data so that we can ascertain exactly when precipitation was and was not falling. We will question you very carefully during our first meeting in order to ensure that we understand exactly how and why you fell, and we’ll determine if we think you have a case or not.
Lots of attorneys in the area claim to be proficient in handling fall down cases, but there is a reason why Worby Vecchio Edelman (and its predecessor firms) is one of the premier Plaintiff’s personal injury law firms in the Westchester County area. Call us first if you have been injured in a fall down accident, or in any type of accident. We know the law, and we’ll make sure you understand why we think you do or do not have a case. We’ll also answer all of your questions; we offer a free, no obligation consultation, and we don’t charge a fee unless there is a recovery.