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We Judge Liability On What Is Finished, Not What Is Attempted

February 9th, 2011

Accident while shoveling snowGenerally, property owners in the City of New York and villages on Long Island owe no duty to pedestrians to remove snow and ice that naturally accumulates on the public sidewalk in front of his or her premises. A failure to shovel may result in a fine from the local municipality, but no liability to a third-party plaintiff. So what happens if you, as a property owner, begin to clear the snow and ice from your property and do a poor job of it? New York Courts have found that once efforts have been made to clear the snow and ice from the public sidewalk, a property owner can be found liable in negligence where his or her acts create or increase the hazards inherent in those conditions.

Having undertaken to clear the snow and ice, a property owner is obligated to exercise reasonable care in doing so. Failing to do so can lead to a jury reasonably inferring that the dangerous conditions present are the result of an incomplete and incompetent snow removal effort. It can also be inferred that the property owner’s conduct created or increased a hazard that would not have existed but for the property owner’s actions.

When the inevitable storm hits our area again (and we know it will), make certain you have the necessary tools, shovels, snow-blowers, salt and sand, to start and most importantly finish the job. It is prudent to make sure you have used all reasonable care to clear the dangerous conditions from your property to avoid slips and falls which could result in a negligence action against you. Remember, your children are a cheap and effective way to remove snow and ice, after all, shouldn’t they work for their day off?

  1. May 17th, 2011 at 01:20 | #1

    Good to see a talnet at work. I can’t match that.

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