Can a person sue a city, village or town after slipping and falling on snow or ice in a parking lot owned by them? Yes, but it isn't easy. Most cities, villages, towns, etc. in New York have prior written notice laws. These laws may have slightly differing language but usually have the same effect. An example of such a law may read :
"No civil action shall be maintained against the village...for damages or injuries sustained solely in consequence of the existence of snow or ice upon any sidewalk, crosswalk, street, highway, bridge or culvert unless written notice of the defective, unsafe, dangerous or obstructed condition of the snow or ice, relating to the particular place was actually given to the village clerk and there was a failure or neglect within a reasonable time after the receipt of such notice to repair or remove the defect, danger or obstruction complained of, or to cause the snow or ice to be removed, or the place otherwise made reasonably safe."Such was the language considered by the New York State Court of Appeals in the case of Groninger v. Village of Mamaroneck decided on June 3, 2011. In that case the plaintiff slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot. As there was no prior written notice of the ice filed with the village clerk, the court dismissed the case. The court ruled that:
The parking lot here serves the "functional purpose" of a "highway,"...As a result the Village was entitled to notice and an opportunity to correct any defect before being required to respond to any claim of negligence with respect thereto."Thus, if you slip and fall in a City, Village, or Town which has a prior written notice law you will not be able to successfully sue unless someone has previously filed prior written notice, unless the City, Village or Town created the condition. Prior written notice is not necessary where the plaintiff demonstrates that the municipality created the defect or hazard through some affirmative act of negligence, or that a special use conferred a benefit on the municipality. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. If you have a ideas for future blog posts let me know. – Marc Miner, Esq. Zalman & Schnurman is a New York law firm that concentrates in personal injury actions such as construction accidents, motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, premises liability, trip and falls, slip and falls, snow and ice cases, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, etc. Learn more at www.1800Lawline.com, or contact us at 1-800-LAWLINE, or 1-800-529-5463 New York City, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Rockland County. The information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not meant as legal advice or to cover all possible facts or factors. An attorney should be consulted to discuss specific facts and laws.