Nurse Awarded Favorable Verdict In Slip And Fall Case

Lever & Ecker February 6, 2016 Slip Trip & Fall

A 39-year-old woman was on her way to work at a local hospital when she slipped and fell on ice in front of the building. She was taken inside and x-rays revealed that she had fractured her ankle. She filed a slip and fall lawsuit against the hospital, alleging that they had failed to properly clear the property of snow and ice, and had therefore been negligent.

The case went to trial and the jury awarded the plaintiff $595,000 in damages.

Who Is Responsible For Removing Snow And Ice?

There is often a question of who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from the areas where someone would walk on a property. In New York, the law states that

every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, in back of) to their properties.

If a tenant is unclear as to whether or not the landlord is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks, they should refer to their lease.

The law in New York City has even made clear how long the responsible party has to clear away the winter conditions. Everything depends on what time the snow stops falling. If the snow:

  • stops falling between 7:00 a.m. and 4:59 p.m. then the responsible party has four hours to clear the property
  • stops falling between 5:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. then the responsible party has fourteen hours to clear the property
  • stops falling between 9:00 p.m. and 6:59 a.m. then the responsible party has until 11:00 a.m. the next day to clear the property

Outside of the city the time restrictions are a little less strict, however, the responsible party is still expected to remove the snow and ice within a reasonable period of time. They are also expected to routinely recheck the property to ensure that everything remains clear and hazard free.

If someone slips and falls on snow or ice on the property it is possible that the property owner or a third party could be held liable for any injuries that they sustain.

I Know The Property Owner – Won’t Suing My Friend Ruin Our Friendship?

It can be difficult for you to discuss your slip and fall accident with a friend or loved one, let alone pursue legal action against them. Thankfully, the majority of slip and fall complaints are filed against the insurance company covering the property or a third party who was hired to clear the property and failed to do so. This way you can rest easy knowing that you won’t be financially hurt by medical bills and lost wages on top of your physical pain and still be able to maintain a relationship with the property owner.

Dealing With The Insurance Company

It is possible that the party responsible may file a claim with their insurance company in the hopes that your medical expenses will be covered. If that happens, an insurance adjuster will most likely reach out to you and request that you make a recorded statement. They will be asking questions to determine:

  • what your injuries are
  • if those injuries existed prior to the slip and fall accident
  • if you ignored any warnings
  • what you were doing just before you fell

It is important that you contact a slip and fall attorney before giving any statements to an insurance adjuster. Keep in mind that adjusters are trained to do everything they can to save the company they work for money, which means they will do everything they can to reduce the amount you receive or deny your claim. An attorney can help you prepare and give the recorded statement and can let you know which questions you do, or do not, need to answer.

The Property Owner Says I’m Partially At Fault – What Does This Mean?

Often in slip and fall cases, the negligent party will attempt to place blame on the victim in order to avoid paying damages or to reduce the amount they have to pay. They may try to claim that you weren’t paying attention because you were talking on your cell phone, that you weren’t wearing appropriate footwear, or that you weren’t wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses. But this doesn’t mean that they were any less responsible for clearing the property of the hazard that caused you to fall.

In some cases, the judge and/or jury may determine that the victim was partially at fault. This is known as comparative negligence. In these cases, any damages awarded to the victim will be reduced by a percentage which represents what portion of the accident was the plaintiff’s fault. It in no way prevents the victim from obtaining compensation.