Walking Safely in Winter

No one is born with perfect balance. Even the most graceful people can look clumsy and comical when trying to navigate an icy winter sidewalk. Slipping and falling are nearly unavoidable, especially when ice and snow accumulate in parking lots and in front of stores, office buildings and residences. If you fall and are hurt due to wet icy conditions, it might simply be bad luck. Or, it might be because a property owner failed to take the necessary precautions to prevent a slip and fall hazard. While pedestrians should exercise caution when walking in winter weather, property owners and municipalities must also do their share to reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents in New York.

Steps to Safer Walking

In cold temperatures, any wet, dark area on pavement can be a slippery hazard. Here are just a few ways to protect yourself when walking in icy conditions:

  • Wear appropriate footwear such as boots and shoes that provide traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Be extra careful when entering or exiting vehicles. Hold onto the vehicle to steady yourself.
  • Look ahead when you walk. Give yourself time to adjust to the need to detour, slow down, or seek better traction.
  • Point your feet outward to increase your center of gravity.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets. Extending your arms out from your sides helps you to maintain balance.
  • Go slowly, take small steps or shuffle to maintain stability.
  • Wear a bulky or heavy coat to create a cushion in case you fall.
  • If you feel yourself falling, try to land on a fleshy part of your body such as your side. Avoid landing on knees, wrists or spine.
  • If you feel yourself falling, try to relax your muscles to decrease chance of injury.
  • When walking in traffic, be aware that motorists sometimes underestimate the time it takes to stop. Wear a bright-colored item of clothing or reflective gear so that drivers can see you.
  • A slippery floor can be just as dangerous as an icy sidewalk. When entering a building, watch for slick areas created by melting ice and now tracked in from outdoors.

When Property Owners are Negligent

A property owner is responsible for maintaining parking lots and areas outside businesses and residences in a manner that’s safe for pedestrians. Building entrances, steps and interiors must also be reasonably free of slick watery or ice conditions. Pedestrian slip and fall injuries may occur because a property owner did not take timely or reasonable steps to remove a snow or ice hazard. In such cases, property owners may be liable for damages if they knew or should have known of a dangerously wet or icy condition and failed to take reasonable steps to remove it, erect a barrier around it, or warn pedestrians of the danger. A property owner who is careless about removing ice, snow and water may also be liable for negligence. Inadequate clean-up measures can leave behind icy patches. Unsuspecting pedestrians, thinking the area has been cleared and is safe for walking, may slip and hurt themselves on ice and snow remaining after ineffective clean-ups.

Municipalities, like the City of New York, are likewise responsible promoting safer winter walking conditions on city-owned property, including park areas and sidewalks.

If You are Injured Walking in NYC

If a property owner’s negligence results in a slip and fall injury to you or a loved one, you might be entitled to pursue compensation in the form of damages. This includes coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the loss of your ability to engage in routine day to day activities and leisure pursuits.

The New York slip and fall attorneys at The Orlow Firm are experts in obtaining compensation for victims of slip and fall accidents. The initial consultation is free. For your convenience, we operate four offices located throughout New York City. Call us at (646) 647-3398, or contact us online.