If you were injured as a result of a
slip and fall that occurred on a private or public sidewalk you may be entitled to monetary
compensation. Private landowners and municipalities have a duty to maintain
their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Therefore, a landowner
or municipality must remedy dangerous conditions created by snow, rain
or ice within a reasonable time after receiving actual or constructive
notice. Actual notice usually occurs when the landowner or municipality
is notified about the condition by written letter or orally. Constructive
notice is a more common way that a landowner or municipality becomes aware
of a dangerous condition, such as knowing that a large storm causing snow,
freezing rain or ice recently occurred. Such knowledge may put a reasonable
person on constructive notice that the property they are responsible for
clearing and making safe may be slippery. However, absent notice, an owner
of property is under no duty to pedestrians to remove ice and snow that
naturally accumulates upon the sidewalk in front of his or her premises.
On the other hand, if the landowner attempts to make a slippery condition
safe and instead makes it more dangerous, then he may be held liable for
Another danger is snow piles created by snow plows. Snow piles can give
rise to liability, if the pile becomes unreasonably high or large reducing
visibility, causing driving or crossing the street to become more dangerous.
Who bears the liability for the creation of the snow pile depends on who
created the pile. A private landowner that personally plows his property
and creates a dangerous snow pile may be held liable for the placement
of the pile. A city, town or village may be held liable for dangerous
snow piles created by municipal plow trucks. However, the situation becomes
more complicated when a private landowner, business or municipality hires
a private snow plow contractor to maintain their premises. Generally,
a landowner or municipality is not relieved of their obligation to maintain
the premises in reasonably safe condition simply because they hired an
independent contractor to plow and/or salt their property. In order for
a private landowner to avoid liability, they must entrust a contractor
to comprehensively and exclusively maintain their property in reasonably
safe condition. Occasionally hiring a contractor to plow or salt your
property is usually not enough to avoid liability.
The key to holding a landowner or municipality responsible for your injuries
is to show that they were negligent in permitting the extraordinary snowfall
or ice accumulation to exist for an unreasonable period of time, and failed
to remedy the dangerous condition when they had an opportunity to do so.
While there is no definition for a reasonable amount of time, some courts
have held days and others weeks. However, the amount of time that is reasonable
will often be determined by a jury.
At the law firm of
Mainetti, Mainetti & O’Connor we routinely handle injury cases resulting from slippery steps, sidewalks,
parking lots, or dangerously large piles of snow. If you have been injured
as a result of someone else’s failure to maintain their premises
in a safe condition, call our
premises liability attorneys in Kingson, Poughkeepsie, and Newburgh.