How Does Wintertime Snow And Ice Affect Someone’s Case?
Regrettably, there are many slip-and-fall accidents in New York City and in the surrounding areas during the winter, especially because of inclement weather with a lot of snow and ice. The city has enacted certain laws to protect people who move about and walk all over the city of New York and the five boroughs.
I give reference to a law, Section 7-210 of the New York City Administrative Code, which came into effect in September 2003, that changed the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance and placed it on the private landlords with sidewalks next to their buildings or properties in the five boroughs; I am referring to buildings or properties that are not one, two, or three family residential properties occupied either in whole or in part by the owner of the property.
Therefore, if somebody had a slip-and-fall accident on the public sidewalk next to a multiple dwelling/apartment building because the landlord had not removed the snow or ice properly from that sidewalk, then the landlord would be held responsible for the injuries suffered by the victim. The responsibility would not land on the city of New York, the true “owner” of the sidewalk.
This law was passed by the city of New York in order to shift responsibility for maintaining the public sidewalks it owns to the adjacent landlords who benefit from the real estate they own. Before Sept. 14, 2003, the city was responsible for maintaining and repairing its own public sidewalks. The landlords and private owners of buildings and property in the city, in Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island, now have the responsibility to fix the sidewalks. Of course, the owner of any building or property is also responsible for any dangerous condition existing on any private walkway, sidewalk or path that exists directly on the property it owns.
This law does not reference only snow and ice. It further refers to the responsibility to repair, repave or even replace defective sidewalks that cause not only slips and falls but also trips and falls.
Is it harder for elderly people, older people and children to recover money and damages from a slip-and-fall injury?
This is a good question because many people are under a misconception. Remember, the law is there to protect everybody. Because many people are senior citizens, are much older than others or have some preexisting physical condition that puts them at greater risk for falling, there is a provision in the law that takes these situations into account. Therefore, merely because someone has a disability or is more fragile does not give a defendant who is being sued or a negligent landlord some benefit or advantage because a plaintiff is older or disabled. This is because someone who is fragile or disabled is only to be judged similar to a person who is under the same disability. Likewise, if a child is involved in an accident, you can’t judge him as an adult would be judged under the circumstances.
Imagine if there was a car accident and a car hit a truck carrying eggs. The negligent driver who caused the accident cannot come into court and say it was not his fault that all the eggs broke and the truck driver lost all his egg money because they were eggs and they were fragile. The court would never accept this argument. It doesn’t matter what’s in the back of the truck. Whatever damage occurred must be dealt with.
If somebody had a bad hip initially and he or she slipped and fell due to a landlord or store owner’s negligence that caused further damage and injury with an increase in pain and suffering, the wrongdoer cannot come into court and avoid paying money damages claiming he or she is not responsible because the person was already damaged goods.
What would you tell a person who wants to go directly to the insurance company to receive payment for his slip-and-fall accident?
I would say that the person was being penny-wise and pound-foolish because insurance companies very rarely offer the true value or full value of money damages owed to an individual who is unrepresented without a lawyer.
An insurance company will often try to prevent any further action on a potential claim or future litigation by offering an unrepresented individual without a lawyer a very small sum of money just to kill the claim or case. If someone who has the potential for lasting and permanent injuries with all the other problems that go along with that is foolish enough to grab quick money early on. I feel bad for that person later on when the true effect of an injury rears its ugly face.
What sometimes happens is that these unfortunate victims realize they did not get the money they were truly entitled to, especially considering they have to live with those injuries in the future. The insurance company has no sympathy at all and simply wants to avoid any further cost or any payout of additional monies. Before giving you any monies to settle, the insurance company will make sure you sign a release whereby you are forever prevented from bringing any further action or claim against the negligent party or the insurance company in the future despite a change in your circumstances.
For more information on the effect of snow and ice on slip-and-fall accidents, schedule a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by contacting us online or by calling 212-689-5000.