New York law imposes a duty on property owners to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition. This includes the duty to keep their property free, both inside and out, from tripping hazards such as wet or slippery surfaces.
Per the New York State Bar Association, however, this mandate does not always apply. Consequently, if you sustained injuries as the result of a slip, trip or fall on someone else’s property and want to sue that person, you need to be aware of New York’s Storm in Progress Doctrine that relieves property owners of their general duty during inclement weather.
Storm in Progress suspensions
The Storm in Progress Doctrine suspends property owners’ duty to maintain their property in a hazard-free condition under the following circumstances:
- Your accident occurred during a rain, snow or ice storm.
- It occurred during a lull in a rain, snow or ice storm.
- It occurred immediately after the cessation of a rain, snow or ice storm.
- It occurred between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- If indoors, you slipped, tripped or fell because of moisture on the floor tracked in from outdoors during a storm.
Keep in mind that your accident need not occur during a full-fledged storm for the doctrine to apply. Continuing light rain, snow, sleet or drizzle also generally qualifies as a storm in progress.
Preparing your case
Your wisest strategy consists of the following whenever you slip, trip or fall on someone else’s property:
- Document the time and precise location of your accident.
- Seek medical attention and document your injuries.
- Take photos of your accident scene as soon as possible, paying particular attention to the type and amount of moisture involved and the lack of any warnings thereof.
- Obtain weather data for the day of your accident, plus the week preceding it.
If possible, also obtain data regarding the weather’s effect on nearby traffic and roadway conditions.