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What does New York’s storm in progress doctrine mean for you?

With the approach of winter and the snow and ice that go with it, now is a good time to review New York’s storm in progress doctrine and the way in which it could negatively impact you if you slip and fall on someone’s wet, snowy or icy sidewalk, driveway or parking lot. While you may think that you always have the right to sue the property owner for these types of injuries, such is not always the case.

In general, New York law requires property owners to maintain their property in a condition that makes it reasonably safe for people to walk on it. However, the New York Bar Association explains that New York’s storm in progress doctrine relieves property owners of this responsibility during inclement weather.

When the doctrine applies

The storm in progress doctrine applies during the following times:

  • During a snow, ice or rainstorm
  • During a lull in such storm
  • Immediately after the end of such storm
  • Between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
  • Any time you slip, trip or fall indoors due to moisture on the floor tracked in from the storm

In addition, the storm in progress need not be a major one. It could be continuing drizzle or light rain, sleet or snow.

Personal responsibility

The main thing to remember about the storm-in-progress doctrine is that it puts your safety squarely on your own shoulders any time you venture out during or immediately after a bout of inclement weather. Consequently, you need to remain especially vigilant and take special care when walking on someone else’s property during the winter. If you fall and injure yourself, you likely will have to rely on your own health insurance to pay for your hospital and other expenses.