This winter's record cold and snowfall have rendered New York City's sidewalks slippery and dangerous. Everyone has either fallen or knows someone who has fallen on snow, ice, or slush. In maintaining a lawsuit against the party responsible for snow and ice removal in the area where you fell, it is important to take notice of and be able to describe the particular icy condition that caused you to slip.
The majority of people who slip and fall will instinctually say that they slipped on black ice believing that if they couldn't see the ice, then they could not be at fault for slipping. However, denying the visibility of the ice may be fatal to any potential lawsuit.
In New York in order to prove a property owner is liable for a dangerous condition on his premises, a plaintiff has to prove that the owner either created the condition, or had actual or constructive notice of the condition. If there is no evidence that the defendant created the condition or had actual notice of the condition, the plaintiff has to prove that the ice, snow, or slush was readily visible and apparent for a long enough period of time to enable the defendant to discover and remedy the dangerous condition.
Black ice by definition is invisible. If the plaintiff could not see the ice, how could the defendant be expected to see the ice in order to clear it from the sidewalk. Likewise, describing the ice as thin, transparent or having the appearance of the pavement beneath it, or minimizing the size of the icy area can be fatal to any claim for negligence against the defendant.
However, if you did slip on what you described as black ice, that does not mean that you do not have a case against the property owner. By taking notice of other possible conditions that exist in conjunction with the black ice, you may identify the evidence needed to prove you case. If the icy area was large, or irregular in shape, cloudy or dirty, you may be able to offer sufficient proof for your negligence claim.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall on snow or ice, contact the Law Offices of Louis Grandelli for a free consultation.