Winter in New York can be an unforgiving season. The temperatures drop incredibly low, the streets become slick with ice and sidewalks may be nearly impossible to navigate right after a storm. Pedestrians and drivers alike have to worry about icicles and drifts of snow falling off of buildings on the sidewalks or traffic.
In short, the winter seems to create countless potential hazards in New York. Sidewalks and parking lots often aren't the focus of people's safety concerns, but they should be. Cold winter weather creates the worst possible situation for potential slip-and-fall accidents.
Anyone who has to walk anywhere, even if it's a short trip from the car to a store, could wind up hurt during the winter months. While there are steps you can take to reduce risk, there is no perfect solution for mitigating slip-and-fall risks during the colder months.
Pay attention to the ground and invest in boots with good traction
As a general rule, if you will find yourself out in the elements during the winter months, having a thick pair of boots is in your best interest. The right pair of boots can keep you from suffering painful frostbite during prolonged outdoor activities. They can also provide good traction on slippery and snowy surfaces.
A good pair of boots can make all the difference between going heels up when you reach a patch of ice and casually walking across it without any consequence. However, even the best pair of boots won't help you in a situation where you aren't paying attention to your surroundings.
The more hectic and frazzled the situation, the more likely you are to rush from one place to another. Unfortunately, when you rush around in the winter, you increase your risk of slipping. Even if most of the sidewalk or parking lot is clear, small patches of ice can still develop in certain spaces with colder microclimates or more accumulated precipitation.
If you don't see a patch of ice, you won't know to adjust your gait, which could lead to a serious slip and fall.
Regardless of what you did, businesses have a duty to keep their premises safe
While walking slowly in slick conditions, watching the ground carefully and wearing good boots can reduce your risk, none of those are legal requirements for pedestrians. You should have a reasonable expectation of safety when traveling on public sidewalks or across parking lots.
Property managers and business owners who do not adequately maintain their businesses incur liability. Regardless of how you were dressed or what you were doing, if you got hurt in a snowy parking lot or on an icy patch of sidewalk, the property owner could very well be liable for your medical costs and other losses.
After seeking medical attention for your injuries, your next step should always be to reach out to an attorney who understands personal injury law and premises liability in New York.