New York City may be photogenic after a snowfall, but the charm soon fades for pedestrians trying to negotiate treacherous sidewalks. Often there is no way to avoid a stretch of unattended concrete. Slipping on an icy pavement can put you at risk for bruises, a broken bone or serious brain or spinal damage.
Every property owner or person responsible for a building in New York is legally responsible for keeping the sidewalk in front of the premises clear of snow and ice. Current statutes give building owners four hours after a snowfall, or until 11 am following an evening storm to have snow removed. Frozen snow or ice should be covered with sand or sawdust to provide traction. Fines for not following these regulations range from $100 for a first offense to $350 for a third offense.
Such penalties hardly compare to the medical costs, lost income, and other expenses related to sustaining a serious injury in a fall. If you are injured because someone neglected to take steps to maintain a safe sidewalk, you may be able to sue for compensation. However, accident cases involving snow and ice removal are not always clear-cut, so it is important to have an experienced injury attorney on your side.
The law gives property owners a reasonable amount of time for clearing sidewalks. While it may be unreasonable to expect someone to remove snow during a blizzard or at 3 am, showing evidence that old ice was present or finding a record of repeat violations for not maintaining the sidewalk can help establish fault.