New York Slip & Fall Accident Guide

by Slip and Fall Attorney, Natascia Ayers, Esq.

Many slip and fall accidents in New York are the result of a property owner's negligence as opposed to bad luck or clumsiness.  In particular, a high percentage of slip and fall accidents in New York are the result of an icy, snow-covered, slushy or neglected walkway.  From slippery sidewalks to driveways, streets and other surfaces, walkways of nearly every type have the potential to result in a nasty slip and fall. 

Dangers of a Slip & Fall

A single fall has the potential to render you or a loved one immobile and unable to work for an extended period of time.

What should you do?

If any person or institution is even partially to blame for your slip and fall, you deserve financial compensation.  Our personal injury attorney is here to review the facts of your case, advocate on your behalf and obtain the compensation necessary to cover all related costs.

Common places for slip and falls

Here is a list of places where slip and fall accidents commonly occur. List: car dealership, hospital, parking lot, slippery sidewalk, etc

Types of slip and fall accidents

Parking lots & sidewalks

Every New York property owner is legally obligated to take proper care of their property, including the sidewalks and parking lots.  Each of these areas must be properly maintained.  

Snow & Ice

All snow and ice must be eliminated to prevent safety hazards from arising.  Property owners are permitted a reasonable amount of time to eliminate snow, ice and slush.  Therefore, a property owner cannot be found liable for a slip and fall that occurred in the midst of a storm.  However, if a property condition led to the accumulation of snow or ice, the landowner can be found liable for a resulting slip and fall.  As an example, if puddles freeze into ice and cause a slip and fall, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. 

Neglected Sidewalks with Snow and/or Ice

The majority of municipalities in New York do not force homeowners to clear snow from the sidewalks on or connected to their property.  However, as soon as a property owner begins to clear snow from the sidewalk, that snow must be removed in a non-negligent way. In other words, the act of snow removal from the sidewalk must be completed in a manner that provides due care for those traversing the property.  

If the property owner leaves snow and/or ice on the sidewalk after clearing away some precipitation, there is insufficient traction to walk on the sidewalk; as a result such a property owner might be found legally liable for resulting slips and falls.

Other types of slip and fall accidents include:

  • slippery surface falls
  • stairway accidents
  • fall from a terrace or balcony
  • parking ramp falls
  • sidewalk falls
  • bathtub and shower falls

Who is Liable in a slip & fall? - The Slip and Fall Might not be Your Fault 

A careful review of the incident might reveal your slip and fall is not completely your fault or even partially your fault.  Let our personal injury attorney review your slip and fall case in-depth as soon as possible.  If another person or party is even slightly responsible for your slip and fall, we will identify them and zealously pursue compensation on your behalf.  

Was the property safe?

The safety of the property where the slip and fall occurred is of the utmost importance.  If the property owner did not make the property as safe as possible, that person or institution can be found guilty of negligence or the failure to provide due care to those in the vicinity.  We will analyze your case to determine if the property owner properly remedied the condition before the slip and fall occurred. 

Is the property owner negligent?

The fact that a slip and fall took place is usually enough to prove the landowner is negligent.  However, the defendant is almost certain to respond with a legal defense. If the landowner made an adequate number of attempts to improve a dangerous condition, liability for the slip and fall as well as related costs might be reduced or possibly non-existent.  

As an example, if a property owner shoveled his or her sidewalk and driveway an hour prior to your fall, he or she may be able to successfully argue adequate care of the property was provided prior to the incident.  You need a savvy personal injury attorney on your side to prove the defendant failed to make the property safe based on the conditions at the time.  

Our legal team is here to analyze your unique slip and fall accident down to the very last detail and obtain the financial compensation necessary to return your life to at least a semblance of normal. 

About Warning Signs on a Property for Slip & Fall

If a New York property owner puts up a warning sign, it does not eliminate the landowner’s responsibility to provide due care to those in the vicinity.  Those who pass through or by should not be put in harm's way for merely crossing the property. Unfortunately, plenty of property owners in New York and beyond have dangerous conditions on their property or fail to take proper care of their property when there is snow, ice, slush or other inclement weather.  Some property owners take the initiative to put up a sign on the dangerous part of the property or at the property entrance.  

However, such warning signs have no bearing unless they are easily visible.  Though warning signs must be considered as the personal injury case is litigated, they do not completely determine negligence in the context of the slip and fall.

Things to do after a Slip & Fall accident

  • Document the scene
    • It is imperative that you document the accident scene to the best of your ability.  
    • Use your smartphone to take pictures and/or video of the accident site.  Take pictures/video of your injured body site(s) as well as the property itself.  Take several snapshots and/or videos of the dangerous part(s) of the property. It will also help to take pictures of the surrounding space, the closest cross street and all other details that have the potential to help prove the property owner's negligence.  
    • If you do not have a smartphone on your person, grab a pen/pencil and draw a picture of the accident scene on a piece of paper.  
    • Speak to witnesses: Flag down all potential eyewitnesses so you can jot down their names and contact information.  The people who witnessed your slip and fall really do have the potential to provide testimony that shifts the scales of justice in your favor.  
    • Every last piece of evidence matters; from video surveillance footage of the accident scene to eyewitnesses and beyond.  If applicable, our personal injury attorney will serve official legal notice on the property owner to ensure video surveillance footage is properly preserved.
    • Collect evidence
    • Examine the cause
    • Fill out a slip & fall incident form if available
    • Write down everything you remember as soon as possible
  • Seek medical attention
    • Obtain and Document Medical Treatment
    • Above all, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your slip and fall accident.  Document every aspect of medical care including:
      • All forms of medical treatment
      • Prescription medication
      • Durable medical equipment
      • All other forms of assistance
    • A successful personal injury lawsuit will obtain compensation for each of these related expenses.  Keep receipts from all treatments, evaluations, emergency medical services and every other related expense, no matter how minor the cost might seem at the moment.  
    • Even if you do not feel intense pain, it is important that you meet with a doctor or other medical professional to have your condition evaluated.  Ask the doctor to make a copy of your medical evaluation and suggested treatment for your records. Such documentation might prove critically important in tying the medical treatment in question to your resulting expenses.
  • Document your treatment
  • Research your options
  • Hire an attorney
  • Be available to your attorney
  • Take it easy
    • Avoid physical activity that could possibly worsen the injuries suffered during your slip and fall.  If you use social media, do not post pictures of yourself engaging in any sort of physical activity. This is a time to rest, recuperate and tend to your injuries with the assistance of medical professionals.  Your case will come under close scrutiny as it is litigated.  Opposing counsel will likely attempt to prove the injury is not as significant as claimed or that there is a pre-existing condition.  Even something as innocent as taking a vacation has the potential to bolster the defendant's case. Ideally, you will avoid social media altogether until your case is resolved.  This way, you won't fall into the trap of posting a status update or adding a picture that potentially portrays you as active, healthy and capable of physical activity in the aftermath of your slip and fall accident.

What not to do after a slip and fall accident

  • Talk more often than needed to
  • Speak with insurance adjusters

How much time do you have to sue after a Slip & Fall accident in New York?

The deadline for filing your personal injury lawsuit is established as soon as the slip and fall occurs.  New York state does not allow injured parties to file a personal injury lawsuit after a certain amount of time passes in an effort to prevent people from filing lawsuits for injuries from completely unrelated incidents.  In some cases, New Yorkers have as little as 90 days to file the initial complaint. In other cases, injured parties have one year or upwards of three years to file a complaint. 

The ownership status of the property ultimately dictates the length of time permitted to file a lawsuit.  Potential ownership parties include but are not limited to:

  • Private parties 
  • Public authorities
  • The local school district
  • The city
  • The town

If the property is not owned by a private party, you might have as few as 90 days to file the notice of claim against the responsible group.  In many cases, the primary challenge is determining who, exactly, owns the property in question, if there are multiple owners, if the property is foreclosed, etc. 

Taking legal action after a slip & fall

Aside from documenting the site of your slip and fall and obtaining medical attention, the most important thing you can do after this unfortunate incident is reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney.  Slip and fall cases are often challenging to establish so every piece of evidence has the potential to prove quite important. You need a hardworking attorney like the legal team at Natascia Ayers Law on your side at the outset of this process to determine the optimal legal strategy, gather all the relevant evidence and obtain the compensation necessary to cover all related losses.  

This compensation can be for:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription medication
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Lost wages
  • Pain
  • Suffering 
  • All other losses causally related to the slip and fall

The 4 Key Elements of a Slip and Fall Case. How to prove it.

In general, our legal team is tasked with proving four key things in a slip and fall case:

  1. A dangerous condition was present on the property in question.
  2. The landowner knew of the dangerous condition before the slip and fall occurred.  
  3. The landowner had ample time to improve the defective part of the property before the slip and fall yet did not take the proper action.  
  4. The landowner did not properly correct the defect that caused the slip and fall.  The court determines what qualifies as a dangerous condition.

Proving the property owner had knowledge of the dangerous condition is typically the most challenging element.  Oftentimes, proving such knowledge requires establishing information that only the landowner has possession of. The court accepts proof of constructive knowledge or actual knowledge.  Actual knowledge is established when the property owner acknowledges awareness of the dangerous condition. Constructive knowledge is established if it can be proven the property owner should have known about the condition in question before the slip and fall occurred.

Contact the Law Offices of Natascia Ayers, experts at Slip & Fall accidents for the victim

The legal team at the Law Office of Natascia Ayers, ESQ is here to maximize your financial compensation, help you return to work and soon as possible and ultimately right this egregious wrong.  Contact us today to learn more about our legal services and schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your slip & fall accident.

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