Premises liability: New York City sidewalk danger in winter conditions

Property owners and others may be responsible for injury that results from a slip and fall when the duty to clear the sidewalk is breached.

Autumn is upon us and winter's challenges are not far behind as we all attempt to conduct our busy lives over snow and ice. Sometimes a New Yorker or tourist slips and falls on a wintry sidewalk because it has been negligently maintained - and the result can be serious, prolonged and even permanent injury.

Seek legal advice after a fall

Anyone injured after slipping and falling on an icy New York City sidewalk should speak with a New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Multiple parties may be responsible for the maintenance of that sidewalk according to state and New York City laws. An experienced premises liability lawyer will investigate to discern who may be liable for the injuries if they failed in their duty to keep the sidewalk clear and safe in snowy or icy conditions.

Potentially liable parties include:

  • Adjacent property owners
  • Renters and tenants of adjacent property who have agreed to assume this responsibility by agreement with the property owners
  • Snow removal companies that did not meet their contractual obligations to keep the sidewalks clear and safe or negligently performed those services
  • Governmental bodies

Serious injuries possible

First, in case of a fall on a snowy, icy or slushy pavement, seek medical attention. If you cannot safely stand up or fear a serious injury that you could worsen by doing so, wait for assistance by a passerby or make a cell phone call.

These injuries can be much more severe than they first seem. Here are some common injuries from winter falls:

  • Wrist and hand injuries: It is instinctual to reach out to catch yourself during a fall, resulting in severe wrist or hand damage when all the body's weight comes down on this limb. Some severe wrist or hand injuries can prevent victims from working and may even be permanently disabling.
  • Ankle injuries: The uncontrolled movement of the body in a fall is often a twist, which concentrates injury in the ankle.
  • Fractures: A hard fall from an ice slip can be blunt enough to break bones, especially in extremities. Seniors are particularly at risk of hip fractures.
  • Cuts and bruises: The friction and force of a fall can break the skin and injure even the deeper skin layers, particularly on the face.
  • Muscle strain: Muscles and tendons may be strained, pulled or even torn in a jarring fall or slip.
  • Head injury: Striking the head on pavement can cause concussion or even traumatic brain injury in serious cases. Any head blow should be carefully evaluated by medical professionals initially and over time; symptoms can worsen or manifest later. Long-term symptoms of even a concussion can be disabling and may include sleeping problems, impaired concentration, relationship problems, emotional disturbance, visual disturbance and more.
  • Back and spine injuries: According to SpineOne, falls most commonly cause injury in deep back muscles from associated twisting, but more serious spinal injuries can occur.

These injuries can cause debilitating, long-term medical problems. Do not delay if you are injured in a winter sidewalk fall in New York City to talk to a personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will assess your situation to seek in a personal injury lawsuit all appropriate resulting damages such as those for past and future medical costs, pain and suffering, therapies, reconstructive surgery, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, long-term residential care, home modifications and more.

The New York City personal injury lawyers at Subin Associates, LLP, represent people injured by slipping and falling on city and private sidewalks throughout the five boroughs.