Snow or Ice Falling from Building and Striking a Pedestrian

In New York City living near tall buildings creates a risk that objects can fall from above and strike and injure pedestrians on the sidewalk. A pedestrian who is injured from a falling object may seek compensation from building owners or others responsible for falling objects. Chunks of snow and ice falling off a building, and striking a pedestrian, is a dangerous event. Thus the New York courts have held that building owners can be held liable for ice or snow falling from a building and striking a pedestrian. When snow or ice fell off a building and struck a plaintiff the New York Courts have held that:

[A building owner] has no right so to construct his building that it will inevitably, at certain seasons of the year, and with more or less frequency, subject his neighbor to that kind of inconvenience; and no other proof of negligence on his part is needed. He must, at his peril, keep the ice or the snow that collects upon his roof within his own limits, and is responsible for all damages if the shape of his roof is such as to throw them upon his neighbor's land, in the same manner as he would be if he threw them there himself.’
Davis v. Niagra Falls Tower Co. 171 N.Y. 336 (1901). Further the Court of Appeals has held that
[A building owner] was under the duty to use reasonable care to maintain it in reasonably safe condition for travel and to remove all obstructions or incumbrances which were dangerous. The owner was also under the duty to maintain its building so that snow and ice would not accumulate upon the roof and fall off upon passers-by to their injury.
Klepper v. Seymour House Corporation of Ogdensburg, 246 NY 85 (1927). More recently the Appellate Division Courts have added the element of notice. Thus while a building owner has a duty to pedestrians they will not be held liable unless they had notice of the condition. Notice can be actual, such as seeing snow or ice fall, or constructive, by proving that sufficient time had passed since the last weather event to allow the owner to take notice or act.
In Taylor v. Bankers Trust Co. the court held that "the proof was sufficient to go to the jury on the issue of defendant Banker's negligence in permitting a dangerous condition to exist with constructive notice of the condition because of the lapse of time since the last snowfall." 80 A.d.2d 483 (1st Dept. 1981). In Persaud v. S and K Green Groceries, Inc. the court held that " the defendants had the initial burden of showing, inter alia, that they did not create the defective condition or have actual or constructive notice of its existence for a sufficient length of time to discover and remedy it." 72 A.D.3d 778 (2d Dept 2010). In summary, a building owner is required to protect pedestrians from ice or snow falling from their building. The building owner can protect pedestrians by removing the ice and snow, blocking off the sidewalk or area where the ice or snow is falling on to, and by warning pedestrians of the hazard. If you or someone you know has been injured due to ice or snow falling from a building you should contact an experienced personal injury law firm. Zalman Schnurman & Miner PC is a a NY Law Firm experienced in handling snow and ice cases, and other types of personal injury cases. For a free consultation call 1-800-LAWLINE (1-800-529-5463) or 212-668-0059.

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