Slip-and-falls typically receive the most attention when they occur inside a business. People readily acknowledge negligent maintenance may have played a role in someone falling in a store because of spills or electrical cords running across the aisles. Such incidents often result in a formal report at the business and possibly an insurance claim or a lawsuit.
When someone falls outdoors in New York, there is often more confusion about who is truly responsible. Especially when a slip-and-fall occurs in the winter months or the rainy spring season, people may shrug off the incident while claiming that such occurrences are a natural byproduct of colder weather or heavy precipitation.
However, property owners often contribute to the likelihood of someone slipping, tripping or falling on the sidewalk adjacent to their property. How do property owners increase the chances of someone getting hurt while walking past their property?
They fail to remove ice and snow
In many communities in New York, municipal law requires that property owners, including businesses and landlords, remove snow and ice from sidewalks. Failing to do so makes the property owner potentially liable for any injuries that someone suffers because of a preventable slip-and-fall. The longer it has been since the storm ended, the more likely it is that a failure to remove frozen precipitation is negligence.
They do not maintain or replace the sidewalk
Property owners have obligations beyond just snow and ice removal. If frost heave, underground foundation settling or tree roots force their sidewalk slabs out of place, they have an obligation to pay for repairs. Saratoga Springs, in particular, passes responsibility for sidewalk replacement and maintenance to those who own the adjacent property.
Failing to maintain safe sidewalks could lead to severe injuries incurred by pedestrians or those in wheelchairs who rely on smooth transitions on the sidewalk for safety’s sake. When property owners do not fulfill their obligations to others under the law, they may end up liable for the injuries that people suffer. Their insurance policies might cover the cost, or they could find themselves facing a lawsuit.
Learning more about slip-and-fall incidents and premises liability can help those hurt on sidewalks during inclement winter weather.