Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyers Discuss Storm in Progress Doctrine

June 20, 2016

People injured in a slip and fall accident can suffer serious personal injuries. When the slip and fall accident occurs because a property owner failed to clear debris, snow, or ice from their property, the victim may be entitled to compensation. Property owners who fail to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of people on their land can be held liable for injuries under premises liability law.

In a recent case, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that liability for a slip and fall accident can be waived if a storm is in fact, “in progress.” A New York state trooper sued the New York State Thruway Authority after suffering injuries after slipping and falling on an icy pavement. A winter storm had occurred overnight, but temperatures had risen above freezing that morning and sleet had turned to rain. Maintenance personnel at the state police barracks testified that the sidewalks had not yet been cleared at the time the slip and fall occurred because they focused on roadways and service areas as their top priority.

The Court of Appeals decided that the Thruway Authority deserved summary judgment because it had hard evidence that a storm was still in progress at the time of the state trooper’s accident. Maintenance logs, airport temperature readings, and official weather data all confirmed that the rain falling at the time of the accident was indeed part of the winter storm from the night before. Therefore, the Thruway Authority was entitled to more time to clear the icy sidewalk since the storm was still “in progress.”

Though the Court’s decision sets a precedent, it is still possible for an individual to bring suit against a property owner when they are injured after a storm. Property owners have a responsibility under premises liability laws to remove ice, snow, and debris from their property within a reasonable amount of time following a storm. If a property owner disputes a claim under the storm in progress defense, the plaintiff can still hold them accountable with the right evidence.

Courts will look closely at the specific weather conditions surrounding a slip and fall accident, particularly the weather preceding the slip and fall incident. When only trace amounts of rain, sleet, or snow have fallen prior to an accident, or when a storm has ended to the point that significant accumulations are no longer falling, the property owner must make an attempt to clear walkways and entrance areas. Gathering evidence that proves precipitation ended in a reasonable amount of time prior to the slip and fall could also help the defense. At no time is a storm in progress defense applicable to rain storms or inside slip and fall accidents.

Philadelphia Slip and Fall Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Victims of Slip and Fall Accidents Claim Compensation

If you or someone you know has been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced team of Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at DiTomaso Law are dedicated to helping our clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available.

Call our Cherry Hill offices at 856-414-0100, or our Philadelphia offices at 215-426-4493, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey including the areas of Philadelphia County, Bucks County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.