This past Saturday I slipped and fell on black ice located directly in a storefront. Immediately after the fall bystanders helped me inside of the store while a store employee threw salt and later cardboard down over the black ice in the entry way. An ambulance took me to the Emergency Room, where I underwent x-rays which determined I had a Colles’ fracture (broken wrist). I was treated, given and prescribed further medication, and scheduled for follow up visits. I have a signature from the employee saying he witnessed it and a photo of me in the ambulance. I also work as a server in a high-profile restaurant and will be out of work for a bit of time, as I require my hands to work. Over 24 hours had passed since the blizzard, and the ice should have been dealt with.
As you can see given the unanimous outcry from the other attorneys who have posted, the answer is yes - you certainly need to consult with a local personal injury attorney.
A colles fracture is a very significant injury and can result in very real limitations throughout your life. First and foremost you must concern yourself with getting the right treatment for this injury. Hopefully the fracture can be repaired in a closed manner and you will not require an open reduction. Regardless you must focus on the healing process and listen to your doctors as this type of injury can rob you of flexibility and strength and you are in for a long recovery.
As to the merits of your claim - while it may be difficult to prove liability it is certainly not impossible. Snow and ice cases turn on photos and testimony about the dangerous ice condition (preferably from an independent witness). You mentioned you have a photo of you in the ambulance but hopefully someone also snapped one of the ice.
One of the most important factors in proving liability will be when the last precipitation ended. My recollection of Saturday in NYC was that it snowed for part of the morning but then died down. This may be a good factor for your claim but it can only be confirmed with a weather report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Any attorney experienced with this type of case will be able to do this and more to help strengthen your case.
Bottom line is that you should contact a local attorney as soon as possible. Speak to no one and post nothing further about this incident.
The store and/or the property owner could have some liability depending upon a number of factors. The owner and/or the store have an obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonable and safe condition. Failure to do so makes them potentially liable to you though there are several defenses to any claim you may bring. For example, a property owner/lessor has a reasonable time to perform snow removal operations after the cessation of the storm. Thus, if it was still snowing at the time you fell, or had just recently stopped, any claim would likely fail. You indicate that you fell on Saturday and more than 24 hours had elapsed since the blizzard ended, however as noted elsewhere, the storm continued into Saturday so the timing of your fall in relation to the cessation of snow is important. Similarly, claims against snow removal companies are very difficult as they typically have no duty to you. In addition, comparative fault is almost always an issue in a fall case. As i'm sure you can see by the responses, every potential case arising from a fall is very fact specific so i suggest that you speak with an attorney before you speak with the store or give any statement to the store or an insurance company. If you fell in manhattan, there is also a good chance that your fall was captured on video and it may be worthwhile to have someone canvass the area. Good luck. As an aside, the store or building may have a "medpay" policy that could pay up to a certain amount for your medical treatment.
I recommend that you meet with a personal injury attorney in person to review your information.
There may be coverage to assist with Medical Payments irrespective of who is at fault. You may also have a personal injury case. It depends if the store was acting reasonably for the circumstances.
You have serious injuries which help support a claim. I imagine you will find a qualified attorney to assist if you look on AVVO.
First, you need to learn about how an attorney evaluates a slip and fall case like this. You need to know the difference between actual notice and constructive notice. Basically, what that means is that the owner of the property knew of a dangerous condition and failed to fix it before you slipped and fell.
There may be special rules that govern who is responsible for keeping the sidewalk clear of snow and ice depending upon where it is located. It might be a private property owner or it might be the city of New York.
To learn more about slip and fall cases on snow and ice I encourage you to watch the following videos:
Slip & Fall on Snow & Ice Following Hurricane Sandy and Nor'Easter in New York
Fall on Ice in New York
Slip & Fall on Black Ice in New York
First thing you need to do is have an attorney notify the store and its Landlord, that you were injured and are seeking MEDPAY. Most policies have that coverage an it will allow you to get some of your medical bills covered regardless of fault. Most firms, including mine, will send a MEDPAY demand without charge or obligation for a prospective client, and will waive any fee on Medpay payments. Bringing a slip and fall over ice is a difficult case. It depends on when the storm ended, and whether the ice had time to melt and refreeze. If the accident was in the middle of the day, its somewhat easier than in the evening. You need to hire an attorney that understands all of the risks of the case he/she is about to bring.
A Colles fracture is often a typical fracture sustained in slip and fall cases. They sometimes can be very difficult to heal properly and potentially could lead to future complications. Hopefully you are treating with a board-certified orthopedic hand surgeon.
You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on Avvo.com dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on Avvo.com.
If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.
Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
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