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Who is liable for slip and fall accidents at stores in snow and water?

Slip & Fall Accidents at Stores in Snow & WaterIn New York State, store owners may be liable for slips and falls in snow and water. However, very specific premises liability laws apply and negligence is often hard to prove in these cases.

Slips and falls are very common in rainy or snowy conditions, but there is no law that requires business owners to protect customers from falls due to tracked in snow or water. In fact, there are legal stipulations that protect stores from liability in these cases.

Laws Related to Slip and Fall Liability in New York State

To hold a business responsible for weather-related slip and fall injuries, you must prove:

  • It created or caused the hazard (e.g., water, ice, or snow on the floor);
  • It knew about the wet floor and had adequate time to clean it after the rain or snow stopped; or
  • It had “constructive notice” about the fall risk, but failed to clean it up in a reasonable amount of time after the weather issues resolved.

These stipulations make it difficult to win a claim for a weather-related slip and fall. Since the store has no control over the weather and no obligation to provide mats or take other action during the storm, it is almost impossible to prove that a business caused the dangerous condition.

Even if someone reported the wet entryway to the store manager and they had time to clean it up, there is no obligation to continually mop up the floor during a storm.

Under the “storm in progress” doctrine, the legal obligation to clean up tracked in snow during a storm “is suspended while the storm is in progress, and does not commence until a reasonable time after the storm has ended.” Of course, if no snow has fallen in several days and there is still water pooling in the store’s entryway, you may be able to show “constructive notice.”

So when is a store liable for my slip and fall injuries?

While the “storm in progress” defense can be applicable in cases of snowstorms, there is no case that has used the defense against tracked in rainwater.

In addition, business owners cannot legally allow these dangerous conditions to continue for hours or days after the weather passes. This is negligence.

Often, though, stores take actions that make it easier to defend themselves against even these claims. Carpet or mats in the entrance, umbrella stands, wet floor signs, and porters or custodians on-call to mop up tracked water during and after an event can all reduce a business owner’s liability in a slip and fall claim.

They may also claim you contributed to your own injuries, especially if you wore slick shoes or were walking while distracted. This can reduce the value of your claim.

Goldstein & Bashner: Long Island Slip and Fall Lawyers

If you suffered injuries in a Long Island slip and fall accident, Goldstein & Bashner can offer a complimentary case evaluation to determine your legal options for compensation. We may be able to help you build a strong case against a negligent business owner, or to pursue other liable parties.

Call 516-874-4362 today to schedule an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Long Island slip and fall attorneys.

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