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How Long After a Storm Ends Does a Property Owner Have to Shovel Before Being Held Liable for Someone’s Fall and Injury?

snowblower clearing snow after a winter storm on residential propertyUnder New York law, property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe for those persons coming upon the property. The standard by which owners are judged can be summed up in one word: “reasonableness.” This means that if a property owner is aware of, or should be aware of, a dangerous condition on his property, the owner will be liable for foreseeable injuries to persons who might be on his property.

It doesn’t matter who the person is or why he has come onto the property; reasonable care must be taken to prevent injury.

In addition to proving the landowner did not exercise reasonable care, to be successful in a claim arising from a slip and fall accident, the injured person will also have to prove that the landowner either created, or, had either actual notice or constructive notice of the unsafe condition. This element can be difficult to prove, which is why retaining an experienced Albany slip and fall lawyer is important.

Finally, the element of “causation” must be proven, which essentially means that only those injuries and damages which a medical doctor or other specialist can state resulted from the fall are admissible at trial.

Unsafe Conditions Caused by Winter Storms

There are limitations to the general rule that the property owner bears liability for all unsafe conditions. For example, if there has been snow or freezing rain, the “storm in progress” rule will give the owner a “reasonable amount of time” after the storm has ended to remove snow or treat ice brought about by the storm.

In one case, a meter inspector went to a home to conduct an inspection and fell on a wet, snowy surface during a snow storm. The case was dismissed based upon the court’s application of the “storm in progress rule.”

This rule can be a formidable obstacle when it comes to being successful in this type of slip and fall case. If you are injured in an accident caused by unsafe conditions created by a winter storm, pursuing a claim will likely require an experienced and resourceful Albany slip and fall lawyer who can help you to successfully navigate through proper investigation and provide knowledge of the statutory and case law rules.

How Long Does A Property Owner Have to Address Unsafe Conditions After a Storm?

What constitutes a “reasonable amount of time” after the storm has ended before liability for failing to provide maintenance of the premises is up to a jury at trial. However, there are some “boundaries” that have been established and which an experienced personal injury attorney will be familiar with.

Court decisions have offered some guidance. Consider Krinsky v. Fortunato, a case in which a person fell on snow and ice while walking on a sidewalk in front of a building. The storm had ended 35 to 40 minutes prior to the accident and the court held that this amount of time was not enough for the property owner to be held liable for the plaintiff’s injury.

Moreover, a  “calm” during a storm of approximately 3 hours was not enough time for a property owner to be held liable to persons injured in a parking lot because, as the court stated, the storm had not ended and therefore, the duty of the owner to clear away the snow and ice had not yet started.

Because there is no one set amount of time established for property owners to clear snow and address dangerous conditions following a winter storm, it is beneficial to have a personal injury attorney on your side to help you make your case and prove that a property owner was in fact negligent, which resulted in your serious injury.

Get the Help You Need After Unsafe Winter Conditions on Someone Else’s Property Leave You Injured

As practicing Albany slip and fall attorneys with more than 100 years of combined experience, the legal team at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany understands how to effectively represent clients who have been injured in an Albany premises liability case. We’ve handled hundreds of cases, including winter slip and fall cases, in the past and have achieved successful verdicts and settlements for past clients.

We promise to compassionately advocate for you or a loved one to obtain full compensation for injury utilizing our decades of experience.

Call us today for a FREE case evaluation at (518) 785-4900. We will explain your rights and answer your questions. You can also contact us through the form on our website to get the conversation started.

Related Resources:

What Do I Need to Do To Keep My Property Clear of Snow and Avoid a Lawsuit? – Learn about your responsibilities as a property owner and find out what’s required of you when it comes to preventing and attending to unsafe conditions created by winter weather on your property.

The Storm in Progress Defense – Learn more about the ‘storm in progress’ defense and how it can protect homeowners but may complicate a slip and fall personal injury case should you choose to pursue one after you’ve been injured during a winter storm.

Editor’s note: This content was originally published in 2014 but has been updated as of February 2019.

Peter Moschetti

About Peter Moschetti

Mr. Moschetti is a personal injury law firm attorney and a founding member of the law firm of Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany. Over the years, he has obtained numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements in personal injury cases. Read More About Peter J. Moschetti, Jr. »