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Did you slip on a patch of icy sidewalk? You may have a claim

Although New Yorkers have enjoyed a rather mild and precipitation-free late fall and early winter thus far, the ice and snow are not far behind. When winter shows its fury in New York City, trip, slip and fall hazards increase for all.

Property managers and owners have to exert reasonable efforts to decrease the likelihood of injuries to patrons, employees, vendors and guests. Businesses that see a lot of foot traffic have to mitigate the hazards that inclement weather presents in order to avoid being held liable for any injuries and damages that result from their negligence.

All businesses and commercial properties should have an ice and snow removal plan implemented. Employees should know who is responsible for which duties and maintaining the logs and records when each task is completed. If a person gets injured and the business is unable to offer proof of which employee salted the icy walk, it could bolster the plaintiff's case that the owners were remiss in their duties.

Sometimes outside contractors are used for ice and snow removal. In those instances, businesses should be able to produce clear invoices of details, dates and times of services rendered.

When snow continues to fall, employees should routinely clear surface areas to keep them as accessible as possible by using sand, salt, cinders and snow removal.

Certain areas should be prioritized as high-risk and targeted by merchants and business owners first. They include any sloped or uneven surfaces, poorly lit corridors and high-traffic areas.

Remember, too, that even when melted, ice and snow present hazards indoors. Customers and others tracking the elements in on their boots and shoes means that puddles can form on floors, which must be mopped regularly to avoid slips occurring.

Other hazards can result when snow is piled too high and it obstructs the vision of motorists or pedestrians. Refreezing conditions due to improper drainage areas can create barely visible hazards similar to the black ice on highways.

If you get injured in a weather-related slip, trip or fall this winter, it's important to know your rights under New York's premises liability laws.

Source: The Travelers Companies Inc., "Protecting Against Slips, Trips and Falls During Winter," accessed Dec. 30, 2016

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