More Ice Than Ever

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Q: In Queens, I slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk, in front of a restaurant.

A: Quite possibly, the operator of the restaurant leased the premises, rather than owned them.  If so, your attorney will want to look into theories of liability both against the owner and against the tenant.

In New York City, there is a statute imposing tort liability on the owner.  Specifically, Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7-210 imposes a non-delegable duty on “the owner of real property” to maintain and repair the sidewalk abutting that property.  Against a tenant, there is no comparable statute.

Although the owner’s duty is non-delegable, section 7-210 does not impose “strict liability”.  That is, the owner may not be held liable unless it either (a) created the defective condition or (b) had actual or constructive notice of it.

As for a tenant, generally it can be held liable for snow or ice on the sidewalk only if it, or someone on its behalf, undertook snow and ice removal efforts which made the naturally-occurring conditions more hazardous.  You will want to discover whether (a) the tenant undertook snow and ice removal efforts to clear the area of the sidewalk where you slipped and fell and (b) whether those efforts created or exacerbated the icy condition that caused you to fall.

Here is a classic example of efforts that worsen the condition.  (1) The defendant piles snow nearby.  (2) The temperature rises.  (3) The snow melts and flows to the spot where you will fall.  (4) The temperature drops.  (5) The melted snow refreezes.  As a result, your spot has more ice than ever – because of the snow piling.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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