If a person slips and falls on an icy sidewalk, a meteorologist may blame the weather. The law might view it differently.
Property owners in many New Jersey communities are responsible for removing snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their property. If a property owner fails in this duty, and someone in injured as a result, the property owner may be responsible for paying for the injured person’s medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages such as pain and suffering.
When is a property owner responsible?
Our recent bomb cyclone plastered much of New Jersey and the New England coast with one to two feet of snow. Whether or not the property owner is responsible for injuries caused by extreme weather events are often dependent on two factors:
- Was the property owner aware of unsafe conditions (or should the property owner have been aware)?
- Did the property owner have a reasonable opportunity to remove the snow that caused the slippery conditions?
Slip and falls on sidewalks often occur in the days after a blizzard when the property owner should have had an opportunity to remove snowfall accumulations. Conditions can become especially dangerous when there are successive thaws and freezes after a snowfall, resulting in icy conditions.
A slip and fall on snow or ice may result in little more than embarrassment and bruises that heal in a few days. In these cases, simply notifying the property owner and municipality may be the best course of action.
Unfortunately, falls can result in serious injuries that require hospitalization and an extended period of recovery. For a senior, a fall may result in a broken hip that can impair mobility and reduce quality of life. The civil justice system can provide a way for the injured to recover financially.