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The Risks Posed by Snow and Ice Storms Extend to Cases Arising Out of Them

Be careful when you venture out into a snow or ice storm.  And be even more careful when you bring a case arising out of a slip and fall on ice or snow.  Most such cases end up getting dismissed by the courts.  New York hews to the “storm in progress” rule.  A property owner or manager does not have a duty to clear ice and snow while a storm is ongoing.  If a person is injured slipping on ice or snow during a storm, there is no basis for a law suit.  But, once a storm ends or slows to such an extent that snow and ice are no longer accumulating, the time to clean up begins to run.  When it comes to NYC’s sidewalks, there is a regulation that dictates how much time a person has to clean up the snow and ice.  Section 16-123 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York says “four hours” after the storm ceases, not counting the hours between 9 pm and 7 am.  That means that if a storm stops and any time between 9 pm and 7 am, the snow and ice do not have to be cleared until 11 am.  In areas where no regulation applies, and even in NYC as to areas other than sidewalks, there is no fixed time as to when snow or ice must be cleared.  The general rule is that it must be done within a reasonable time.  The courts have said that what’s reasonable is usually a question of fact, which turns on the particular circumstances, such as, for example, the amount of snow left by the storm, and who is supposed to clean it up.  The owner of a single-family house will be accorded more time to clean up an adjoining sidewalk after a 25-inch snowfall than a live-in superintendent of a multiple dwelling after a 2-inch snowfall.  And, regardless of when someone begins to clear ice and snow, they may be liable for doing it badly and creating a hazardous condition, even if the storm is still in progress.

If you or someone close to you is injured slipping on ice or snow and is thinking about bringing a case, make sure to consult with attorneys experienced in handling this type of case, such as the attorneys at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson.

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