long island personal injury law - snow & Weather related accidents
January 2018 began with Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declaring a state of emergency due to a massive snowstorm. The first blizzard of the season (also referred to by many as the “bomb cyclone”) shut down major airports, cancelling flights and leaving thousands of travelers stranded in the process. Cars slid off the roadways while stranded motorists elsewhere waited for emergency help.
According to statistics recorded by the Federal Highway Administration:
- Over 70 percent of the nation’s roads are in areas that typically see more than five inches of snow per year
- 70 percent of the population in the nation lives in these snowy regions
- Almost 15 percent of weather-related accidents are those which occur under snowy, winter-weather conditions
- Over 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes that occur on winter roadways with more than 1,300 fatally injured
While roadway accidents account for many of the injuries, other injuries are also common due to the impact of snowy, icy weather. Improper clearing of sidewalks by homeowners, slippery, wet flooring inside establishments or icy conditions on sidewalks in front of store-fronts are just some of the ways injuries occur. Store-owners who have not done their due diligence in properly plowing and salting parking lots contribute to winter-weather accidents, as well.
Whether it’s a slip-and-fall, workplace accident or motor vehicle accident, weather related injuries increase every winter. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,470 workers who were injured in 2014 due to falls on the same level where ice, sleet, or snow contributed to the incident. Workers responsible for clearing snow and ice also experience over-extension, slip-and-falls, and back injuries.
Contributing Factors for Winter-Weather Injuries
- With the onset of holiday activities, many drivers let maintenance of their vehicles fall by the wayside. They forget to examine the treads on their tires. Tires without proper traction can cause the vehicle to skid, rear-ending another vehicle.
- During winter weather, visibility severely decreases due to blizzard conditions; worn, old windshield wipers contribute to decreased visibility.
- According to the Federal Highway Administration, average speeds decrease 30 to 40 percent on snowy or slushy pavement. Some motorists continue to drive as though under normal conditions and don’t decrease their speed, causing accidents.
The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control gathers statistics on injuries. Slip-and-falls are the main contributing factor for non-fatal injuries. With the onset of wet, slippery conditions and snow fall under way, shoppers tend to rush in a mad frenzy as they enter supermarkets and hardware stores for supplies, adding to the increase of slip-and-fall accidents. It is the responsibility of store owners to make certain these walkways and store-fronts are snow and ice free.
Homeowners who do not have a plan of action in place for snow removal run the risk of someone having a slip and fall.
Drivers, homeowners, and shop owners – whether they are chain store owners or mom-and-pop stores - must take necessary precautions in order to safeguard their establishments and the safety and well-being of others. If they do not, they run the risk of being liable for the accident or injury of another.
If you’ve experienced an accident due to winter weather and are unsure whether negligence was involved, contact the highly skilled Long Island Injury Lawyers at Winkler Kurtz, LLP to set up a free, no obligation consultation.