Published on:

The Legal Concept of ‘Notice’ and What It Means to Winning Your New York Sidewalk Accident Case

As anyone who has walked around New York City in the wintertime knows, just because the snow, sleet, or freezing rain has stopped falling from the skies, that doesn’t mean that the danger is gone for those traversing the city’s sidewalks and other walkways. Many times, it can be the ice that remains or accumulates after a storm that can harm you. Owners or possessors of property have a legal obligation to keep sidewalks and other walkways safe, including clearing snow and ice. Thus, if you’ve been hurt in a slip-and-fall accident on a snowy or icy sidewalk, you may be entitled to recovery. You should check with an experienced New York slip-and-fall attorney about your case.

One example of an injured person who was able to overcome a property owner’s arguments and take his case to trial was a man in the Bronx named Tyrone. Tyrone’s case was one that highlights how using a strong combination of firsthand testimony and expert witness testimony can help you clear the hurdles in your case.

Tyrone was walking along a sidewalk located on a New York City public housing property when he slipped and fell, suffering injuries in the process. After he fell, Tyrone noticed that the ice on the sidewalk where he fell was brown and dirty-looking.

Armed with this evidence, he sued. When you sue for your injuries in a slip-and-fall (or a trip-and-fall) accident case, there are several hurdles that you have to clear before you can obtain a recovery. One of the first ones is a defense motion for summary judgment, which happens in most cases. This is a motion that the property owner makes to argue that, regardless of how the court resolves the disputed issues of fact, you (as the plaintiff) cannot possibly have a winning case under the law.

The New York City Housing Authority made such a motion in Tyrone’s case. Both the trial court and the Appellate Division, however, ruled against the housing authority and allowed Tyrone’s case to proceed.

In a slip-and-fall case, one of the key things is a factor called “notice.” This means that the hazardous condition must have existed for a long enough period of time that the property owner either knew about it or reasonably should have known about it if it was acting in a reasonably diligent manner.

The housing authority had the testimony of a caretaker for the property, who testified that the sidewalks were free of ice when he arrived at work that morning. This testimony would tend to indicate that the ice hadn’t been there very long and that there wasn’t enough notice. Tyrone, on the other hand, had both his own testimony and the opinion testimony of an expert witness. Tyrone testified that the icy area where he fell had brown, dirty-looking ice, which potentially pointed to the ice being old and having been on the sidewalk for a longer period of time. Tyrone’s climatology expert testified that the most recent snowfall had stopped two days earlier but that the weather was cold enough that snow and ice would have remained “on the ground in untreated areas” as late as the morning of Tyrone’s accident.

This combination of pieces of evidence was enough to raise a viable argument that the housing authority did have sufficient notice of the ice, which potentially made it liable for Tyrone’s injuries.

The knowledgeable Queens sidewalk accident attorneys at Newman, Anzalone & Newman have been representing injured people hurt in slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall cases for many years. We have the skill and experience to give you representation upon which you can rely. To schedule a free consultation with one of our qualified attorneys, contact us toll-free at 877-754-3099 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

When You Can Sue a Non-Commercial Property Owner in New York Over a Snowy/Icy Sidewalk, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2017

Who is liable if I slip and fall on a snowy or icy sidewalk?, New York Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, Nov. 11, 2015

Contact Information