Fall on Ice in New Jersey

December 21, 2020
by We can Help Law

When an individual falls on an icy surface they can become seriously injured.  Each year slip and fall accidents on icy surfaces lead to serious injuries.  Slip and falls on icy surfaces can even lead to death in certain circumstances.  Depending upon the specific facts and circumstances, a slip and fall on ice may be caused by the negligence of a property owner and the individual who was injured may be entitled to monetary compensation.


Negligent Snow and Ice Removal


In New Jersey, a commercial landowner has a duty to keep their premises free from dangerous conditions.  These dangerous conditions include snow and ice.  If the commercial landowner fails to properly keep their property free from snow and ice and someone is injured, they may be responsible for the harm caused.


Snow and Ice Removal


In order to keep their premises safe and free from snow and ice, a commercial landowner must not only remove snow and ice that they are aware of; they must also inspect their premises to make sure that snow or ice has not developed in a specific area.  This duty includes containing to use of de-icing compounds in order to combat newly formed ice or previously shoveled or plowed snow that may begin to melt and refreeze.


Duty During a Continuing Storm


Throughout the United States, some jurisdictions apply what is known as the ongoing storm rule to situations in which a landowner has failed to remove snow and ice while a storm is still ongoing.  The New Jersey Appellate Division recently addressed the ongoing storm rule in New Jersey.  The court found that the ongoing-storm rule arbitrarily relieves commercial landowners from any obligation to try to render their property safe while sleet or snow is falling.


Before making its decision that court described the ongoing storm rule as a rule that is premised on the ground that to remove snow and ice while a storm is occurring would always be “inexpedient and impractical.”  The Court found that such a bright-line rule, however, ignores situations when it is reasonable for a commercial landowner to remove or reduce foreseeable and known snow or ice hazards.  The court ultimately found that the ongoing storm rule frustrates a main function of tort law—deterring tortious behavior and preventing accidents.

Ultimately, the court concluded that a commercial landowner has a duty to take reasonable steps to render a public walkway abutting its property—covered by snow or ice— reasonably safe. Such a duty—to remove or reduce a foreseeable hazard— cannot be fulfilled by always waiting to act until after a storm ends, regardless of the risk imposed to invitees and pedestrians. The commercial landowner’s liability may arise only if, after actual or constructive notice, it fails to act in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances to remove or reduce the foreseeable hazard. Whether it would be inexpedient or impractical to act is one of many factors for the jury’s consideration. Thus, reasonableness is the polestar.

The court clearly holds that a landowner does have a duty to act reasonable and attempt to prevent snow and ice from accumulating even if the snow and ice is still falling from the sky.  Clearly, if the commercial landowner fails to do this and someone is hurt, they will be held liable.


Injuries from a Fall on Ice


Injuries from a fall on ice vary but can include broken bones, ankle and wrist injuries and or head injuries.  The severity of the injuries will vary depending upon numerous factors.  However, falls on snow and ice can certainly led to serious life altering permanent injuries and can even lead to death in certain circumstances.


Contact us Today


If you or someone you know has injured themselves due to a fall on ice, contact our law firm day or night.  Our attorneys are experienced civil trial lawyers who have recovered millions of dollars for our clients.  We are aggressive attorneys who do not back down and fight for those that we are privileged to represent.  All of our consultations are completely free.  Additionally, all of our matters can be handled on a contingency basis which means that you will never pay us a legal fee unless we successfully recover money on your behalf.