Clients frequently ask us about the rules in New York pertaining to the liability of a landowner to persons injured by defective conditions. The general rule is that a landowner owes a duty of care to keep his or her property in reasonably safe condition. This rule applies to defective conditions including sidewalks, walkways, driveways and other areas where people have to walk or traverse. It also applies to conditions of snow and ice. Falls on ice can cause serious injuries and auto collisions.
When there is an ongoing storm, the rules change. Many clients are unaware that New York adheres to the “storm in progress” rule. This means that although a landowner owes a duty of care to keep his or her property in reasonably safe condition, he or she will not be held liable for negligence for plaintiff’s injuries as a result of an icy condition occurring during an ongoing storm in progress or for a reasonable time thereafter.
New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, recently reaffirmed these principles in a recent decision in Sherman v. NYS Thruway Authority, 2015 NY Slip Op. 03546 [May 5, 2016].