New York winters can be brutal. The cold alone is enough to knock you off your feet even without ice beneath them. However, too often New Yorkers are subject to devastating falls as a result of snow and ice sidewalk accidents. Even though property owners have an obligation to clear their walkways within a certain period of time, many fail to do so.
It is important that you understand your rights in the event of a fall on a slick sidewalk, parking ramp or other space that is either public or private. In addition, by understanding when property owners are and are not required to clear their walkways, you can be particularly careful during those periods when conditions may remain snowy and slick legally. Because during these periods, it is more difficult to hold business owners or the city accountable for failing to clear ice and snow.
In New York City, property owners are not required to clear walkways while snow is falling. Rather, they are required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks and walkways within a reasonable time following the cessation of snowfall.
According to the New York City Administrative Code, property owners must clear the public sidewalks adjacent to their property within four hours, if the snow stops falling between the business hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. If the snow stops falling between the non-business hours of 5 p.m. and 7 a.m., property owners enjoy significantly more time before the snow must be cleared. In this case, owners have until 11 a.m. the following day to clear the snow, according to NYC regulations.
However, these rules do not apply in determining whether a property owner will ultimately be held liable for a slip and fall injury on the sidewalk adjacent to his or her property due to uncleared snow and ice. Firstly, not all property owners are responsible for accidents that occur on the sidewalk in front of their property. If the property owner is responsible for accidents that occur on their sidewalk, under the New York City Administrative Code, the applicable rule is whether the property owner acted reasonably after the snow or ice stopped falling.
Source: NYC 311, “Snow or Ice on Sidewalks Report”