The evidence used to prove defendant liability in a claim for injuries arising from a New York City sidewalk snow and ice accident consists of client testimony, defendant testimony, location photographs, witness identification-testimony, ambulance call reports, initial hospital record and certified weather reports.
All of the categories of proof mentioned above are not required. In fact our firm has won many sidewalk related snow and ice cases based solely upon the injured person’s testimony and certified weather reports standing alone. However, the more evidence that can be marshaled in favor of the claim, the better potential value that can be achieved. Full value of an injury may be discounted in settlement negotiations based upon the percentage chance of losing at trial. The more certainty to to a favorable liability finding, the closer to full value an injured person maybe able to obtain in a negotiated settlement.
Section 7-120 (a) and (b) of the New York City Administrative Code requires that the abutting property owners of qualified properties maintain the sidewalk free and clear of snow and ice. Specifically Section 16-123 of the New York City Administrative Code requires the abutting property owner to remove snow and ice within four (4) hours after snow ceases to fall, or by 11:00 a.m. if snow stops falling after 9:00 p.m. the previous evening. Therefore, the abutting property owner has a four (4) hour window of time to remove snow and ice after last precipitation.
Witness identification confirming the place and manner of the accident is always helpful, but not required.
Photographs depicting the snow and ice condition relative to the property in question is one of the best forms of proof if taken shortly after the accident. Photographs also taken of nearby cleared sections of sidewalk can be helpful in proving what another reasonable property owner was able to accomplish in a comparative manner. However, it is understood where serious injury occurs such as ankle fractures, the last focus a seriously injured person should have is taking pictures. In the cases of serious injury, photographs of the condition is usually the exception as opposed to the norm.
Upon accepting a NYC sidewalk case, our office will take location photographs with the client present even if there is no snow and ice condition left for the limited purpose of pin pointing the location of the accident relative to the property in question.
Ambulance call reports are important if an ambulance is involved for both location and history of the accident. The initial emergency room record is also important in documenting the history of the accident, although not always accurate.
A certified weather report of the nearest airport is usually the best method of proof of the amount of precipitation and when snow ceased to fall.
As discussed above, liability in New York City snow and ice cases is limited if there is snowfall in progress at the time of the accident, as the statutory requirement of clearing within four hours of last precipitation has yet to even trigger. Therefore, the certified weather report is critical.
In summary, many of New York City snow and ice sidewalk cases are won with proof limited to client testimony and a certified weather report. However, the more evidence marshaled in support of the claim, the more value that can be achieved at least by way of settlement.
If you or someone you know has sustained injury as a result of a sidewalk slip and fall due to snow and ice conditions in New York City, please contact our office for a free consultation. We have much experience in this type of case and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.