Winter is upon us in the Mid-Hudson Valley region. This means freezing
temperatures and regular snowfall. This also means there is the added
risk of encountering accumulated snow and ice. When improperly treated,
or not treated at all, this presents a hazardous condition for pedestrians.
slip and fall attorneys understand the danger, and work with many victims of these
premises liability matters.
The general rule under New York law is that property owners, lessees, and
managers have a duty to keep their premises safe for all persons who could
enter it. Until the highest court in New York visited the issue, the duty
depended on the status of an entrant being an invited guest for business,
social guest for non-business purposes, or a trespasser. However, the
Court of Appeals in
Basso v. Miller summed up the new standard as “reasonable care under the circumstances.”
While the status of the entrant is no longer a dispositive factor, it
is still a consideration the courts will assess in determining “reasonableness.”
This means if an owner or possessor of property is aware of, or should
be aware of, a dangerous condition on his or her property, the owner will
be liable for any foreseeable injuries to entrants who might be on the
property. During the cold winter months of the Mid-Hudson Valley, this
includes the removal of snow and ice from one’s premises. Failing
to remove accumulated snow and ice may result in serious injuries caused by a
Poughkeepsie slip and fall accident.
But this duty to clean one’s property of snow and ice does not trigger
immediately upon first snowfall. Rather, it only comes into effect after
a “reasonable period of time” has passed after a storm has
concluded. This is known as the “storm in progress” doctrine
and it can be a significant hurdle in your case if you do not have an
experienced Poughkeepsie slip and fall attorney.
The “storm in progress” doctrine only creates liability for
an owner or possessor of property once a storm has completely passed.
It does not create liability in a temporary “lull” of a storm.
If a victim of a Poughkeepsie slip and fall is injured during a storm,
no liability will attach to the property owner or possessor.
What constitutes a “reasonable amount of time” is a very fact-dependent
assessment. Some court decisions have offered some guidance. For instance, in
Krinsky v. Fortunato the court found that falling on snow and ice 35 to 40 minutes after a
storm has concluded was not a “reasonable amount of time.”
But what could be a reasonable could be dictated by local ordinances,
or sets of laws applicable to the town or city creating them.
Town of Poughkeepsie ordinances, Section 174-2 requires owners and occupants to remove snow within four hours if it falls
between 6:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., or within six hours if it falls between
6:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. Whereas the
City of Poughkeepsie ordinance Section 15-10 requires snow and ice removal within twelve hours after snowfall. If the
landowner or possessor violates these ordinances, it is evidence of negligent
conduct which can be used to help prove your case.
Further, it is necessary to retain a resourceful Poughkeepsie slip and
fall attorney to advocate for your case. To prove when a storm affirmatively
ends, it is important to retain a forensic meteorologist to opine when
the last snowfall was or when the last new formation of ice was. This
is used to accurately determine how long the dangerous condition was on
the property and when the “reasonableness” clock begins to tick.
Our slip and fall attorneys at Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor,
P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of
personal injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious personal injury accidents,
particularly throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie,
and Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here