Winter has arrived and with it snow and ice. Sometimes these elements can add beauty to the season, but, in many cases, they also add danger – particularly in the form of snow and ice on sidewalks, driveways, and other areas that can be slip and fall hazards.
Snow and ice is a matter of public safety in New York. Because of that, sidewalks and other walkways must be kept clear. Homeowners, property managers, and business owners all have a responsibility in the state to ensure that snow, ice, and any other hazards are removed in a timely manner from the property so that no one gets injured.
If you do get hurt on snow and ice, then your landlord may be liable. Here is what you need to know about a property manager’s responsibility for snow and ice removal.
The Duty of Property Owners and Managers
Premises liability laws in New York are strict and require any owner of the property to take reasonable action to clear ice and snow in a timely manner. This is to prevent any slip and fall accidents from occurring.
In New York City, for example, property managers or owners have four hours to remove snow and ice from the sidewalks surrounding their properties that open to the public – that’s four hours after the snow or ice has stopped accumulating.
It also must be done in such a way as to not cause other dangerous situations, i.e. piles of snow that block a crosswalk. If snow or ice cannot immediately be removed, because it is frozen hard, then they must spread materials such as salt or sand until the weather permits the area to be cleared.
Be aware, as well: In New York City, the four-hour deadline for snow and ice removal does not apply between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. And in different areas, such as Staten Island or Queens, managers or owners simply have to start the process of removal within four hours, not have it removed completely.
If the property owner or manager violates these rules, they can be fined. For a first offense, they can be fined up to $150. For a second offense, it can go up to $250, with a third offense resulting in up to $350 in fines and possible jail time of up to 10 days.
Additionally, if snow and ice removal laws are not followed, property owners and managers can be held liable in civil court for injuries related to slip and fall accidents.
Liability for Slip and Fall Accidents
If you are hurt by a slip and fall accident related to improper snow and ice removal in New York, then it may be possible to hold your property manager or owner liable if they committed the following:
- They caused unsafe conditions by failing to remove snow or ice in a timely manner in accordance with the law.
- They knew there was snow and ice that presented a danger but did not take steps to address it.
- They should have known about the snow and ice as any reasonable person would be, and they should have taken steps to address the hazards.