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On Thin Ice: Know Your Slip-and-Fall Rights in the Following Scenarios

It’s cold, windy and treacherous outside. En route from your favorite department store, you suddenly find yourself face-to-face with the ice-covered pavement in front of the store – and are in need of serious orthopedic rehabilitation for the next several weeks to heel your injured ankle. Who is responsible in this situation? The department store? The snow removal company? The local municipality?

Every slip-and-fall scenario is comprised of its own unique set of facts and the following examples may help highlight your rights in the event you are injured after taking a tumble while walking outside. As always, if you were recently injured in a slip-and-fall accident, be sure to call the Westchester County slip and fall attorneys of Lynch Schwab & Gasparini right away.

Scenario #1:  The Apartment Sidewalk: Joanne, a tenant at a high-rise, privately owned apartment building, breaks her wrist after falling on a patch of ice immediately outside the front door of her building. Upon further inspection, it does not appear that salt or any other traction agent was applied to the area. Does Joanne have a case?

Attorney:  Most likely, Joanne has a slip and fall case against the property manager, landlord and/or owner of the building. Landlords have a duty to maintain common areas to ensure safety and security of tenants and their guests. In an area like Westchester County, which is frequently blanketed with snow and ice in the winter months, it is reasonable for tenants to expect the landlord to regularly apply melting or traction agents like salt to ensure the safety of those walking by.

Scenario #2:  The Grocery Store: Daniel is grocery shopping when, all of a sudden, he slips on a clear substance on the floor. On the way down, he grabs an adjacent aisle display, which also falls on top of him, injuring his nose. Upon further inspection, Daniel concludes the substance is melted vanilla ice cream. Can Daniel recover for these injuries?

Attorney:  In all likelihood, Daniel can recover from the store owner/parent company for the costs of his injuries. In a quintessential example of premises liability, Daniel has entered the grocery store as a business guest, and is therefore afforded the highest level of protection from hazards on the property.

Shop owners have a duty to regularly inspect the store for problems, and must either immediately remedy the situation or place unambiguous warnings adjacent to the problem to keep shoppers safe. In this example, the ice cream was clearly on the ground for some time – allowing it to melt – and the store owner should have cleaned up the mess much more quickly.

Scenario #3:  A Friend’s Driveway:  Teresa is invited to her next door neighbor’s house during a snowstorm to catch up on their favorite television show. On the way down her friend’s driveway, Teresa slips on a patch of ice and falls to the ground. Can Teresa sue her friend for her injuries?

Attorney:  Maybe. In this scenario, Teresa is a social guest, and the landowner (her friend) owes her a duty to warn of known dangers on the property. However, at the same time, Teresa has a duty to exercise her own level of care and caution when walking in a snowstorm, and may have assumed the risk of hitting an icy patch during a storm.

Scenario #4:  The Home Improvement Store:   Leonard enters his local home improvement warehouse to purchase some lumber for a doghouse he plans to build in the backyard. In the lumber aisle, a four-foot red and white stop sign is propped at both ends, accompanied by a message directing shoppers to seek the help of an associate before making any selections.

Thinking he only needs a couple 2’ x 4’s, Leonard enters the aisle – and immediately slips on a thin layer of sawdust on the floor. On the way down, he bumps his head on the metal shelf, causing severe head trauma. Can he recover from the store for his injuries?

Attorney:  Probably not. In this scenario, Leonard amounts to a trespasser in the lumber aisle, and was expressly prohibited from entering that area of the store. Presumably, the store concluded that the sawdust on the floor would make it too dangerous for shoppers to enter the area unsupervised, and it issued a warning stating as such. By ignoring the warning, Leonard also likely precluded himself from a slip and fall recovery.

Contact Lynch Schwab & Gasparini Today!

If you were recently injured in a slip and fall accident and would like to speak to a reputable slip and fall lawyer, please contact Lynch Schwab and Gasparini by calling (914) 304-4353.

Posted on April 8, 2015 in Personal Injury