With more than two feet of snow predicted in parts of New Jersey and New York in one storm alone this winter, snow-covered, icy sidewalks, steps, and walkways will require extra care and attention from property owners to prevent accidents. Slip and fall injuries can be serious and cause the need for extensive medical treatment. Both property owners and municipalities alike have a legal responsibility to shovel sidewalks, plow streets and salt walkways and steps. If they haven’t done so and a person sustains an injury, they could be held liable.
Who Is Responsible for Snow and Ice Removal?
Under New Jersey law, property owners are obligated to provide a safe walkway for people who are visiting their property, regardless of weather conditions. This also includes publicly-owned sidewalks adjacent to or in front of the property. That being said, the responsibility to clear the snow and ice from sidewalks does not necessarily also mean the property owner could be held liable for any injuries sustained in an accident. Generally, residential property owners aren’t held liable for injuries unless the homeowner has created an artificially dangerous condition. For instance, perhaps the residential property owner planted a tree that caused the roots to push through the sidewalk causing an uneven walkway, in addition to a slippery condition. In that scenario, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim.
On the other hand, commercial property owners not only have a responsibility to provide a safe walkway but they also could be held liable for injuries occurring from a slip-and-fall accident. Unlike residential property owners, the theory is that the commercial landowner’s business benefits financially from its patrons using the public sidewalk in front of or adjoining their business and that they can pass along to its patrons the cost to maintain that sidewalk, including the cost to insure against the liability arising from an injury on such sidewalk. If you’ve been injured on a snowy or icy sidewalk, steps, or path at a commercial property, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim to recover compensation for your damages.
Slip-and-Fall Injuries Caused by Snowy or Icy Sidewalks
A variety of injuries can result from a slip-and-fall accident, with some being more serious than others. If you’ve experienced a slip and fall accident, you should always seek immediate medical treatment. Not only will it provide the best outcome for your long-term healing but also, by seeking medical treatment you will also then have documentation of your injuries. Medical records should prove helpful if you seek legal action against the party you feel is responsible for your fall. Some of the more common injuries caused by falls include:
Broken Bones: In most cases, broken bones are painful and it’s apparent you’ve sustained an injury.
Soft Tissue Injuries: These injuries are often undetectable at first glance, making them difficult to diagnose. While being bundled up for the cold weather may help cushion the impact, injuries to wrists or ankles may worsen over time. More serious damage could result from torn tendons and ligaments, which will require timely medical attention.
Head Trauma: Even a slight impact to the head can result in potentially serious trauma. Anytime you fall on snow or ice and hit your head, you should immediately seek medical care. Swelling, bleeding, or even a momentary loss of consciousness are all signs of a potentially life-altering traumatic brain injury. Some head injuries present little or no indication of damage until hours or days later, which could appear then as a life-threatening event.
Slip and Fall Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured on a snowy or icy sidewalk due to the property owner’s negligence, you should consider discussing your case with an experienced slip and fall accident attorney. At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we believe in compassion and empathy and want to help. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.