Do I have a slip and fall lawsuit?

I just fell on ice and was injured…do I have a slip and fall case?  Whether it was the result of freezing rain producing a set of slick steps, or a snow-covered ice patch left in the wake of a storm, almost everyone living throughout Western New York can recall a time where they suffered a slip and fall accident.  If you’re lucky, you may walk away from the experience with the biggest injury sustained being one to your pride; however, in instances where a serious injury has occurred as a result of a slip and fall accident, it is not uncommon to question whether one has legal recourse under the circumstances. 

Generally speaking, when you have sustained a serious injury on property that is owned and/or maintained by another party due to the presence of some hazardous or dangerous condition, you can seek to recover damages for your past and future pain and suffering against any responsible party.  However, while many tend to think that simply slipping on property owned and maintained by another party leads automatically to liability, the law has adapted over time to reflect the specific difficulty of maintaining property during an active storm.

Developed over time through case law and judicial opinion, the “Storm in Progress Doctrine” reflects the inherent difficulty in making a given area safe for foreseeable use when there is an active storm producing precipitation and/or leading to snow and ice accumulation.  While some see this doctrine as an unfair and unnecessary mechanism meant to protect landowners and property managers alike, just think back to a time when you’ve dutifully cleared your driveway and walkway during a snowstorm only to see all of your hard work undone in minutes due to the stubbornness and persistence of Mother Nature.  Accordingly, an otherwise responsible party will not be held liable if an injury occurs during the course of an ongoing storm and as a result of some hazardous condition that was the direct result of that particular storm or weather event, such as ice and snow accumulation.

While the term “in progress” conjures up images of an immediate or on-going storm, courts have actually found that the relevant time period may be over the course of several hours or even days.  Furthermore, a brief lull or interruption of the storm does not necessarily render the doctrine irrelevant or inapplicable. 

In addition to the temporal considerations surrounding a “storm in progress”, courts have found that the doctrine is not only available as a defense during blizzard conditions, but also in times where there is less severe, inclement weather.  Additionally, the law provides that a party responsible for maintenance be provided a “reasonable time” within which to clear the area of any dangerous or icy conditions following the end of a storm or weather event.

Of course, if you are seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, talking through these considerations with an experienced attorney could be the difference in establishing a claim where a given landowner or insurance company may try to brush you off while arguing that you have none due to a “storm in progress”.  Call Segar & Sciortino at (585) 475-1100 for a free confidential consultation to help you better understand if you have a slip and fall lawsuit. Or complete our fast and easy online contact form.

Segar & Sciortino has served Western New York for over 25 years in the areas of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and Personal Injury (Accident) Law. Local experience you can trust to get the benefits you deserve.