Rochester, New York, Personal Injury: What Is The Storm In Progress Defense?

Jed Dietrich, Esq., Is Recognized as A New York Super Lawyer and Best Lawyer of America. If You, Or a Loved One, Sustained Injuries in a Rochester School Zone Accident, The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. Could Secure You the Compensation You Deserve.

Tree Fallen Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure their premises are safe and free from unreasonable danger. New York State law requires that homeowners, businesses, and landlords protect their guests from foreseeable hazards, even when the underlying cause is out of their control. The city of Rochester has strict, weather-related statutes that instruct property owners to maintain not only the integrity of their structures but the safety of adjacent roads and sidewalks.

When property owners neglect their responsibilities, people can and often do get hurt. If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a serious slip-and-fall, automobile collision, or other preventable accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. However, even when property owners make obvious mistakes-like letting rainwater accumulate on slick tile or forgetting to salt a store's ice-covered entryway-they may try to reduce their legal liability using the storm in progress defense, claiming they should not be expected to resolve weather-related risks amidst inclement conditions.

While the storm in progress defense can help property owners end bad faith litigation, it can also be misused to avoid accountability. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. has spent years standing up for accident victims across Rochester and Western New York. Our experienced team knows how to push back against a bad-faith defense. We could analyze weather reports, safety records, and company policies to determine whether a business could have reasonably prevented your accident. If we find that a wrongdoer is trying to abrogate their legal duty of care, we could take them to court to help you obtain the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. Please call us at 585-939-3939 today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options for recourse.

Understanding The Storm In Progress Defense

New York State courts have repeatedly upheld that landowners have a legal duty to maintain and keep their properties in a reasonably safe condition. While some property owners may seek to ignore weather-related hazards, believing rain or ice to be beyond their control, they must consider all circumstances to ensure the safety of their premises. However, the state recognizes limited exceptions to its property maintenance regulations.

The storm in progress defense was affirmed by a state court of appeals in 2016 after a New York State Trooper tried to sue the Thruway Authority for injuries he sustained in a weather-related automobile accident. In its decision, the appellate panel found that the Thruway Authority should not have to compensate the trooper since he was hurt "during an ongoing storm." So, if a serious storm is in progress, personal injury plaintiffs cannot recover damages caused by an accumulation of snow or ice.

After all, "shovel[ing] snow while continuing precipitation or high winds are simply re-covering the walkways as fast as they are cleaned [would] […] [render] the effort useless." When a storm is in progress, a property owner is absolved of their legal duty of care and should not be expected to take reasonable measures of maintenance, such as:

  1. Warning the public of potential weather-related hazards;
  2. Shoveling snow; and
  3. Salting sidewalks and other surfaces.

New York State courts have offered conflicting opinions about what constitutes a storm for legal defense. A storm could be:

  1. A blizzard;
  2. A torrential downpour of freezing rain; or
  3. Any amount of precipitation that impacts surrounding roadways and infrastructure.

However, the storm in progress doctrine does not provide property owners with an unlimited and unassailable defense. For a business owner to escape accountability, they must demonstrate that the weather conditions before, during, and after the weather event were so severe that the property could not be reasonably maintained for the duration of the event. Since our founding in 2005, the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. has been committed to providing the highest level of personal injury service in the region. If a property owner claims they cannot be held liable because of inclement weather, we could analyze every aspect of your case to accurately determine if they had a valid reason for neglecting a hazard or are simply trying to avoid making amends for their own mistake. We do everything in our power to secure accident victims the compensation they need to recover after a serious Rochester accident. Please call us at 585-939-3939 to schedule your free consultation as soon as possible.



Countering The Storm In Progress Defense

Cars With Snow The storm in progress defense is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for negligent landowners. A light snowfall does not preclude property owners from keeping their guests and the public safe. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. could anticipate and counter a storm in progress defense by carefully evaluating:

  1. The Weather: The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. regularly consults with weather experts for slip-and-fall claims and other storm-related cases. We review quantitative weather data to determine if the amount of precipitation preceding the accident could or should be considered a significant weather event.
  2. The Circumstances Surrounding Your Accident: The storm in progress defense only shields property owners from liability if the condition that caused the accident was itself caused by the storm. However, a landowner could still be responsible for your injuries if their negligence contributed to an unrelated, unsafe condition. A supermarket could still be liable for damages if you slipped and fell after an employee forgot to put up a wet floor sign after mopping, even if there is a storm outside.
  3. The Landowner's Response: While the storm in progress defense may help protect businesses during and in the immediate aftermath of a serious weather event, they must still resolve any unsafe conditions after the storm has passed. The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. could subpoena surveillance camera footage, your medical records, and workplace injury reports to see how much time elapsed between the cessation of the storm and your accident. If a business allowed ice to remain on a sidewalk hours after a snowstorm, they might not be able to claim there was still a storm in progress.

The Dietrich Law Firm P.C. believes that nobody should have to pay the price for another person's poor decision. If a property owner's negligence caused your Rochester accident injuries, you should not be stuck paying out-of-pocket for the consequences. We could help you overcome a wrongdoer's defenses and construct a compelling, evidence-based case for compensation. Please send us a message online or call us at 585-939-3939 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.

Call the Dietrich Law Firm P.C. immediately at 585-939-3939 so that our aggressive, tenacious, and hardworking personal injury lawyers can fight to obtain the best result for your personal injury claim in Rochester, New York. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there is never a fee until we WIN for you!

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