Falls on Ice and the Law

Falls on Ice. A common winter hazard in New Jersey and New York, for sure. Such falls can result in broken bones, and even worse. If someone falls on ice on someone else’s property, can that victim obtain compensation? That is, compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The answer is it depends on where and when the fall takes place. In this post, I will use New Jersey law in my examples. As in any case, the law in other states, including New York, may be different.

falls on ice

Falls on Ice on Sidewalks

The law does not require owners of one and two family homes who live in their homes themselves to keep their sidewalks free from the natural accumulation of ice and snow. Therefore, such owners are generally not legally responsible for falls on ice that occur on their sidewalks.

That said, such owners can be liable to a fall victim if, in clearing their sidewalk of snow and ice, they actually increase the danger of an accident.

In other words, while such owners are under no duty to clear their sidewalks of ice and snow, they may become liable to a fall victim if do clear a sidewalk and do so in a way that creates a greater danger.

Moreover, homeowners are generally responsible to clear snow and ice from walkways that are actually on their property (as opposed to abutting public sidewalks). So if, say, a guest slips on ice on the walkway leading to a home’s front door, that guest may have a valid case against the homeowners.

But generally only if there was enough time before the accident for the homeowner to shovel the snow. For example, if the guest fell in the middle of a snowstorm, the guest likely would not have a case.

Easier to Sue Commercial Owners

Different rules apply to the owners of business properties, including owners of malls, stores, office buildings and residential apartment buildings. For instance, such commercial owners generally are responsible for keeping their sidewalks free of snow and ice. (Again, though, only after a reasonable period passes from when the snow and ice accumulates.)

I have only scratched the surface of the law of falls on ice. There are many other factors that may affect whether a victim can recover compensation.

If you slipped and fell on ice and would like to receive injury compensation, contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. There are deadlines to sue or take other legal action.


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