What Are the Laws Regarding a Slip-and-Fall on an Icy Sidewalk?
It won’t be long before the sidewalks of New Jersey are covered in the ice and snow that winter brings. Walking on these sidewalks can be treacherous, and it makes sense that if you slip and fall from the ice and snow, the person or company responsible for maintaining it would be held accountable. But in New Jersey, that’s not always the case. It largely depends on the type of property, and the town that the property is located in.
In most past cases, the courts have actually determined that if a slip-and-fall occurs on private property, or the sidewalk right outside, the homeowner is NOT responsible for expenses related to injuries sustained in the fall. This is because the home is not there for business purposes, and those visiting the home will not be conducting business while there. Customers and business patrons are afforded the most protection when it comes to premises liability.
But that doesn’t mean that all homeowners in New Jersey are exempt. Certain towns, including Bayonne, North Bergen, Union City, and Jersey City require homeowners to clear their property, including the sidewalks, of all ice and snow.
But property owners need to be careful, regardless of the town in which they live. This is because clearing the ice and snow can actually create bigger problems, which they could be held liable for. For instance, if the snow was cleared but a thin layer was left on the concrete, forming into ice. Because the ice is now present due to the property owner’s actions, if someone were to slip and fall on it, the property owner could be held liable for injuries.
Multiple Family Buildings
Private property owners are not always required to clear snow and ice, but the same is not true for owners of multiple family buildings, such as apartment buildings and condos. Because these property owners profit from the actual buildings, they are responsible for clearing snow and ice, both in the parking lot and on any sidewalks on the property. (This includes the sidewalks at the end of the property.)
Commercial properties, such as shopping malls and movie theaters, also have a much higher duty of care to people on their premises and the adjoining sidewalks. These properties are where business is conducted and in which the property owner profits from that business. Because of this, under the law they have an obligation to make sure that sidewalks are cleared of ice and snow to keep them reasonably safe for those that use them.
Is the Victim Liable?
Even in these cases, the actions and behavior of the accident victim will be taken into consideration when determining fault. For instance, if there was a lot of snow and ice on the sidewalk but a person chose to run, that would be taken into consideration by the courts and that person may receive reduced compensation due to his/her own negligence.
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident due to an icy sidewalk, contact us at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. We have the experience needed to deal with these types of cases in New Jersey, and we can fully explain the laws. Call us today at (609) 240-0040.
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