Winter Storm: Clearing Ice & Snow in NYC Ordinances

Who’s Responsible for Clearing Ice & Snow

New York receives a lot of snow and ice most years. That makes it a matter of public safety to keep public sidewalks clear to prevent serious slip and fall accidents. Property owners in New York City have a legal duty to keep public walkways surrounding their property clear of snow and ice. New York City requires homeowners, business owners and property managers to remove ice, snow and other hazards from their properties in a timely manner. If they fail to do so and someone falls and gets hurt, the property owner or manager may be held liable for the injuries.

David Resnick & Associates has represented many New Yorkers who have been seriously injured in falls. New York City has specific laws placing responsibility on property owners for the removal of ice and snow within certain periods of time. If you or your loved one has been injured in a fall caused by snow or ice, it is important to contact an experienced NYC injury attorney as soon as possible. You may have a valid premises liability claim. It is important to start investigating these types of cases right away. Talk to the injury lawyers at David Resnick & Associates, P.C. to find out about your legal options.

We offer a free consultation to review your claim and discuss your legal options.

Timely Removal Required for Snow and Ice

The state of New York has strict laws concerning premises liability requiring property owners to take reasonable steps to clear ice and remove snow in a timely manner to prevent slip-and-fall accidents. Generally speaking, New York City gives property owners or managers four hours to remove ice and snow from public sidewalks surrounding their properties after snow stops falling. Snow and ice removal must be done so as not to create a more dangerous condition such as piles of snow blocking a crosswalk.

New York City Code Section 16-123 requires property owners, lessees, tenants, occupants, or others in charge of any building or lot in the city adjacent to a sidewalk to remove “snow or ice … or other material from the sidewalk and gutter” surrounding the property within four hours of when snow ceases to fall. Where hard-frozen ice cannot be removed immediately, the owner must spread sand, sawdust or other materials, and clear these surfaces when weather permits.

The four-hour deadline does not apply between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. In Queens and Staten Island, the property owner or manager must only begin to remove snow and ice before the four-hour deadline.

The law provides that violations can be punished by a fine of between $10 and $150 for a first offense, $150 to $250 for the second offense within a year, and $250 to $350 for a third offense, and/or imprisonment for up to 10 days.

In addition to facing fines, property owners who do not abide by the NYC laws may be civilly liable if a slip and fall accident occurs depending on the circumstances.

Responsibility for Falls on Snow and Ice in NYC

The law allows a person who has been hurt by slipping on snow or ice that was not properly cleared from a New York City sidewalk to hold the property owner or manager liable if the property owner or manager:

  • Caused the unsafe condition by not clearing ice or snow in a timely manner.
  • Knew about the ice or snow but did not take steps to correct it.
  • Should have known about the ice or snow because a reasonable person taking care of the property would have discovered and corrected the hazardous condition.

Our slip-and-fall attorneys can help you gather evidence to show that a dangerous condition caused your injury and that the property owner’s disregard for safety caused your injury.

However, if you slipped and fell on a snow-covered sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm, you may not be able to recover compensation for your injuries, unless an adjacent property made the conditions more dangerous.

David Resnick & Associates, P.C. takes falls on ice and snow and the injuries they cause seriously. Fall victims can face painful and expensive recoveries, and some people who slip and fall may be permanently injured or sustain fatal head injuries.

A knowledgeable attorney can analyze the facts of the accident and determine who may be held responsible.

Who May Be Responsible For a Slip and Fall Injury on Ice

A commercial property owner or property manager may be held liable for a serious injury or a wrongful death resulting from the property owner or manager’s negligent handling of snow removal. Our experienced attorneys can determine whether the property owner failed to remove snow and ice within the time allow or failed to post a warning of a property hazard.

Many businesses in New York have contracts with snow removal companies to clear snow and ice from parking lots and sidewalks. If a person is injured from a fall on a slippery surface, a snow removal company may be liable or share liability with a property owner for failure to clear a property of snow and ice in a reasonable time.

Snowplow operators have a responsibility to operate plows in a safe manner so as not to endanger others. Pedestrians have limited mobility when walking across slippery surfaces such as icy parking lots. A pedestrian walking across a snow-covered parking lot may be struck and fatally injured by a snowplow if the plow operator is not paying attention when backing up. A snowplow operator who strikes and kills a pedestrian as a result of the operator’s negligence may be held liable by the victim’s family through a wrongful death lawsuit.

If a government agency is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk where the accident occurred, special rules apply for filing a Notice of Claim within 90 days of a pending accident claim. That makes it critically important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to start investigating your injury.

Fatal Accidents on Snow and Ice

A slip and fall or pedestrian accident on ice or snow may result in a fatal head injury or other fatal injuries.

A wrongful death claim may be brought against a person or business that when legally required failed to remove ice and snow from a property, resulting in fatal injuries. As a general rule, a spouse, child or parent can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If a spouse, child or parent of the deceased is not living, then a sibling, niece or nephew may have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

If your close relative has been killed as a result of another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to claim monetary compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Depending on the specific facts of the fatal accident, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical bills incurred by your loved one before he or she died.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before death.
  • Loss of earnings the deceased would have provided to the surviving family members.
  • Loss of benefits that the deceased would have provided to the family, such as medical insurance or pension benefits.
  • Loss of companionship and affection.

If your loved one’s death was a result of a property owner’s carelessness or disregard for safety or someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation. Contact David Resnick & Associates to discuss how we may assist if you or your loved one has been involved in an accident caused by snow or ice.

Business Owners Responsible for Sidewalk Safety

Here are four simple words of winter advice to New York City property owners: Keep your walkways safe.

The polar vortex event in January caused record-breaking low temperatures and dumped snow all over the state, including the New York City metro area. As winter continues, ice and snow may well accumulate on sidewalks, porches and parking lots.

Back in 2003, New York City began requiring property owners to maintain their adjacent portion of the sidewalk in “a reasonably safe condition,” keeping it clear of ice, snow, dirt and other hazards. Under the ordinance, commercial property owners must also remove snow and ice from parking lots, entrance ways and inside their buildings.

If property owners do not keep their property in a reasonably safe condition, they can be held responsible for any injuries resulting from a slip and fall.

The law applies to owners of commercial businesses and residential buildings housing four or more families. It does not apply to residential buildings housing fewer than four families or those that are owner-occupied.

It’s true that New Yorkers are accustomed to walking with care on sidewalks in bad weather, but black ice is hard to spot, especially in the dark. Many people get hurt when they slip, trip and fall on sidewalks. Liability for injuries may rest on the shoulders of property owners if they fail to spread sand and salt or neglect ice on the sidewalks, walkways and parking lots they should be maintaining.

Liability for Icy Sidewalks

Businesses, religious buildings, and rental complexes have a duty to keep their premises safe for pedestrians. Anyone who slips, falls and is injured may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income, and other costs associated with the accident.

In general, a business or property owner may be held liable if the owner:

  • Knew conditions were treacherous but did not clean the ice, snow or slush from the walkway.
  • Caused the unsafe condition, such as spilling liquid and not removing it.
  • Should have known about the dangerous conditions and failed to rectify them.

Pedestrians can take responsibility for their own safety by watching for any buildup of snow and ice, as well as black ice, and by walking in clear spots on sidewalks that have been shoveled or where they can see salt or sand. If pedestrians spot dangerous areas on public or private walkways, they may file reports or complaints on the City of New York website.

City Snow and Ice Removal Rules

New York City has published its rules for cleaning up snow and ice as follows:

  • If the snowfall ends during daylight hours between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., property owners must clear their walkways within four hours.
  • If snowfall ends overnight between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., property owners must clear their walkways before 11 a.m.

Property owners should have a risk management and safety plan to take care of the ice and snow on their property, stockpile sand, salt and other supplies and make sure equipment such as shovels and snow blowers is in good working order.

When winter weather hits, property owners should:

  • Pay close attention to weather forecasts and frequently inspect and treat property.
  • Treat walking surfaces before high levels of pedestrian traffic and tend to them at night when surfaces may refreeze.
  • Give special treatment to steps and stairs and don’t neglect railways and handholds.
  • Close any walkways, parking lots or entrances that can’t be adequately treated or cleaned. Repair or replace downspouts, gutters, awnings and roofs to prevent dripping water on walkways.

It is true that most New Yorkers are used to navigating around ice and snow, but this does not mean accidents won’t occur. Even careful pedestrians can suffer a fall on slick surfaces when sidewalks and parking lots are not maintained.

Working together, pedestrians and business owners can create and maintain a safer walking environment in New York.

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