New York City Law Regarding Removal of Snow and Ice

Snow and ice are common culprits in slip-and-fall cases.  If you are injured after slipping and falling on snow, ice, or other debris, you may have a claim for damages.

In New York City, Section 16-123 of the New York City Administrative Code dictates when landlords and owners (among others) must remove snow, ice and dirt from sidewalks abutting their properties.

That section provides, in part:

Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person, having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city, abutting upon any street where the sidewalk is paved, shall, within four hours after the snow ceases to fall, or after the deposit of any dirt or other material upon such sidewalk, remove the  snow or ice, dirt, or other material from the sidewalk and gutter, the time between nine post meridian and seven ante meridian not being included in the above period of four hours. Such removal shall be made before the removal of snow or ice from the roadway by the commissioner or subject to the regulations of such commissioner. In the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island, any owner, lessee, tenant or occupant or other person who has charge of any ground abutting  upon any  paved street or public place, for a linear distance of five hundred feet or more, shall be considered to have complied with this section, if such person shall have begun to remove the snow or ice from the sidewalk and gutter before the expiration of such four hours and shall continue and complete such removal within a reasonable time.

Notably, Section 16-123 creates a four-hour “window” after the snowfall stops for property owners to remove snow and ice.

It also provides that if the snow and ice is “frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement,” the responsible entity may (within the above time frame) use sand, sawdust, or “similar suitable material” to alleviate the condition.  As soon as the weather permits, they must “thoroughly clean such sidewalks.”

Also, under the “storm in progress” rule, a defendant is not liable for injuries sustained from icy and snowy conditions that occur during a storm, or for a reasonable amount of time after a storm has passed.

Finally, the fact that a property owner undertakes to remove snow or ice from their property does not preclude liability. They must still do so with reasonable care. That is, liability may result if it is shown that their efforts made the sidewalk more hazardous.

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