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Another Nor'easter Storm to Hit New York City & the Hudson Valley Prompts Concerns Over Car Accidents, Insurance, Slip and Fall Personal Injuries & Weather Emergency Preparedness

For more information, please contact The Ahearne Law Firm, PLLC at (845) 763-4100 for an initial consultation and case evaluation.

Just as power is being restored to much of the Hudson Valley after last week’s storm, which left an estimated 100,000 people without power and was blamed for at least 10 deaths in the northeast, a second nor’easter is projected to drop up to 14 inches of snow on Wednesday. Light snow may begin to fall after midnight or 1:00 AM on Wednesday morning, with heavier snow to accumulate by 9:00 AM. Winds out of the northeast of 20 to 30 mph are possible. Two days after last week’s storm, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency.

Storm-related car accidents frequently give rise to injury claims, which lead to insurance claims. New York is one of a dozen states that follow a “no-fault” system when it comes to automobile insurance coverage after a car accident. No-fault coverage eliminates injury liability claims and lawsuits in smaller accidents in exchange for prompt direct payment of medical bills and lost wages — up to certain dollar amounts — regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

However, no-fault insurance may not fully compensate an injured party as such coverage is limited to medical bills and lost income only rather than compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience or lost opportunities. Further, such coverage does not pay for medical bills and lost income higher than limits of the injured driver’s policy, which policies are subject to the following minima in New York:

  • $25,000 per person personal injury protection (PIP)
  • $50,000 per person for wrongful death protection
  • $50,000 total per accident personal injury protection
  • $100,000 total per accident wrongful death protection
  • $10,000 per occurrence property damage protection

It is also possible for an injured party to step outside of the no-fault system and bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in a car accident in New York if the injured party suffers a “serious injury”. In New York, the “serious injury” threshold is met if the injured party suffers any of the following conditions from the car accident:

  • significant disfigurement
  • bone fracture
  • permanent limitation of use of body organ or member
  • significant limitation of use of body function or system
  • substantially full disability for 90 days.

All no-fault laws also permit an injured driver to file a liability claim, and a lawsuit, if necessary, against another driver who was at fault in an accident, for medical and income losses above what the no-fault benefits pay, in addition to pain and suffering and other general damages in the same way as in a state that does not follow no-fault insurance law. Accordingly, if a driver is found liable for an accident where the damages not only take the case outside of no-fault insurance but also exceed the limits of such driver’s insurance policy, such driver will be personally liable for any excess damages.

It is important to note that no-fault insurance does not apply to vehicle damage as those claims are still handled by filing a liability claim against the driver who is responsible for the accident, or by looking to a driver’s own collision insurance.

FDA Tips on Weather Emergencies

The FDA provides the following links to help prepare for weather emergencies:

Food Safety
Your Pets
Your Drug Safety
Your Medical Devices

Slip-and-Falls

Slip and falls on snow or ice can be a hazard caused by the season, but it can also be the result of someone failing to keep their property in good condition. If you fall because someone did not clean the snow properly, failed to put the right amount of snowmelt on the area, allowed cars or trucks to create a patch of ice on the walkway or sidewalk, then the fall is the result of someone failing to properly clean or under the law they might be considered negligent. If you are injured because of negligence, you may be able to sue and recover for your injuries.

In New York City, the landlord or building owner has the responsibility to clear snow and ice from public walkways, stoops, and steps of a building in a timely manner. If the property is a parking lot, then the owner of the lot is responsible to keep the area free of “black ice” and to have good walkways even when the snow can’t be fully removed. If the location of the fall is at an entry door or other public walkways near the entrance, then that area must be kept in good condition.

In the event that there is a storm, while the storm is going on and 24 hours after the end of the storm, there is nothing that can be done to make a safe walkway, so the law does not require the landlord or owner to clean the area. So they are not responsible for providing a safe path, walkway or area while the storm is ongoing. After the storm has stopped the obligation to make the walkway safe starts.

Also, people can fall and get hurt not just because of the snow and ice, but because of why there might be a puddle or an accumulation of ice. If the property has a hole or a large crack, and the water or ice forms at that area, that failure to maintain the property in a good condition causes the accident. The landlord and owner are responsible. For example, there is a pothole in the parking lot. You step into the water that covers the pothole because it is the flattest of the puddles in the area and you just can’t avoid walking in water after a rainstorm, and your foot gets into the deep hole and you get hurt, then you can sue. This is negligent maintenance and a failure of the landlord to maintain the building and/or property.

For example, if a building has a leaking gutter and the leak causes a puddle that freezes and becomes ice, should there be an injury caused by that frozen puddle it is possible that the landlord would be responsible for the injuries and harm caused. It is essential that landlords and property owners maintain their properties and promptly address snow and ice situations in a timely manner.

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If you or a family member have suffered a weather-related accident or injury, you and/or your family member may be entitled to money damages.

We take your calls and meet with your family personally to answer all your questions. We will press your insurance company for the coverage you are entitled to and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Personal injury cases require a wealth of experience, and a network of proven experts, including doctors and medical experts, accident recreation experts, insurance investigators, private investigators, and the resources necessary to fight large insurance companies.

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