Winter safety is important to think about whether you are driving, frequenting restaurants and retail stores, going to work, engaging in wintertime recreational activities, or using consumer products designed for snow and ice. To be sure, weather conditions like snow and ice can make certain tasks significantly more dangerous, and personal injuries can result from a wide range of actions and activities. When a personal injury does happen in the winter in New York, who is liable? Liability will always depend upon the specific facts of your case, so it is essential to have a New York personal injury attorney assess your case. In the meantime, our firm can provide you with more information about liability for personal injuries in the winter.
Car and Truck Accidents in Winter
Motor vehicle collisions can happen more often due to inclement weather in the winter, but it is important to remember that other motorists are often still liable for these collisions. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), snow and ice are responsible for nearly one-quarter (about 24 percent) of weather-related traffic crashes in the U.S. More than 1,300 people are killed every year in winter-weather collisions, and about 76,000 people suffer injuries in these crashes.
You might assume that the weather is to blame, but it is essential to know that motorists have a duty to drive reasonably under the circumstances — that means slowing down below the posted speed limit when it is snowing or there is low visibility, and leaving a greater following distance when the roads could be icy. Failure to take these steps could mean that a driver’s negligence caused a wintertime car or truck crash even if snow or ice was also a factor. As such, the car or truck driver could be liable.
Construction Site Accidents in Winter and Employer Liability
Construction workers throughout Upstate New York face various types of hazards on worksites when winter approaches and sets in. As the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes, wintertime brings very cold temperatures, snowfall and sleet, ice buildup, and varying kinds of winter storms to the Northeast, Midwest, West, and other parts of the country. As such, construction sites in those places are also impacted. Who is liable when a slip and fall happens on a construction site, for example, or when a construction worker slips on icy scaffolding and falls several stories to the ground level of a construction site?
In general, workplace accidents, as we noted above, do not often involve determining liability and filing a negligence claim since the no-fault workers’ compensation system in New York allows injured workers to obtain benefits regardless of fault. However, injuries on construction sites are a little bit different. Under Sections 200, 240, and 241 of New York Labor Law, employers can be liable for construction worker injuries that result from their own negligence concerning winter construction site safety. To be clear, if a construction worker suffers an injury due to cold stress or a winter condition on the site that could have been prevented by the employer’s reasonable attention to safety, it may be possible to sue the employer for negligence under New York Labor Law.
In addition, many winter construction site accidents happen in road construction due to motor vehicle collisions. If a driver fails to slow down appropriately for a construction zone during inclement winter weather, that motorist may be liable. As such, it may be possible to file a third-party lawsuit against that party.
Comparative Negligence and Your Own Liability
Should you expect that your own negligence will impact your personal injury claim? New York is commonly known as a “pure comparative fault” state, which means that a plaintiff’s own negligence will not bar them from recovery (unless they are 100 percent at fault). Regardless of whether a plaintiff is minimally at fault (such as 1 or 2 percent at fault) or significantly at fault (up to 99 percent at fault), New York law allows a plaintiff to recover damages for an injury for which another party is liable. However, under New York law, the plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by their percentage of negligence.
The statute expressly states: “In any action to recover damages for personal injury, the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant shall not bar recovery, but the number of damages otherwise recoverable shall be diminished in the proportion which the culpable conduct attributable to the claimant bears to the culpable conduct which caused the damages.”
Contact Our New York Personal Injury Lawyers for More Information
Have you suffered a personal injury during the winter and you believe another party may be at fault? It is important to get in touch with a New York personal injury attorney who can assess your case for you today and help you to determine whether another party may be liable. When one or more parties are liable for your injuries, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to seek financial compensation. Contact Powers & Santola, LLP today to find out more about filing a personal injury claim following a wintertime accident or injury.