Q: In the parking lot of the strip mall next door to my home, leaving Dan’s Deli, I slipped and fell on a patch of ice. Although the Deli was just a tenant, Dan would often do the snowplowing. The weatherman says that, that morning, snow had fallen at a nearby airport. But I am sure that it did not snow or rain that morning in our neighborhood.
A: Under the so-called ‘storm in progress’ rule, a property owner will not be held responsible for accidents occurring as a result of the accumulation of snow and ice on its premises until an adequate period of time has passed following the cessation of the storm to allow the owner an opportunity to ameliorate the hazards caused by the storm. Here, your attorney will argue that your testimony beats the weatherman’s: there was no ‘storm in progress’.
You are likely to sue both the Deli and the landlord. However, an agreement by the Deli with the landlord to remove snow will not necessarily render the Deli liable in tort for your personal injuries. Generally, the courts say that an entity like the Deli may be held liable only where, in undertaking to render services, the Deli entirely displaces the duty of the landlord to maintain the premises in a safe condition, you rely on the Deli’s continued performance under the agreement, or the Deli has negligently created or exacerbated a dangerous condition.
A classic example of exacerbating the dangerous condition is piling the snow to the side of the parking lot, whereupon it melts back into the parking lot, and refreezes to become the patch of ice you fell on. Your attorney is likely to check as to whether this had occurred.
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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