We all know that nobody can be responsible for the weather. Hurricanes, blizzards, lightning strikes, tidal waves and tornadoes are all “acts of God,” that cannot be controlled. That said, knowing that weather can be harsh, there is much that can be done to protect people from harm when bad weather strikes. At Wittenstein & Wittenstein we have been handling lawsuits for weather-related accidents in New YOrk City for over 60 years, so we know exactly what to do to get you the highest amount of compensation possible.
WEATHER-RELATED TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that weather-related traffic accidents are a leading cause of injuries and death in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration reports that from 2007-2016 there have been 1,235,145 weather-related car crashes per year in the United States. That’s 21% of the overall number of traffic accidents. In these crashes, an average of over 400,000 persons are injured each year, and 5,376 are killed. Many of these accidents could have been prevented, had proper safety precautions been used.
Snow and Ice
When weather conditions are adverse, common sense dictates the use of a higher standard of care. Snowy and icy roads are slippery are slippery, and during a storm visibility may be limited as well. The National HIghway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that weather-related accidents are the leading cause of crashes. Freezing rain is the most dangerous condition of all, as it is difficult to assess how slippery the road becomes. During the winter months, it is also a good idea to make sure your car is prepared with snow tires or chains.
Unfortunately, even if we drive with the utmost caution, we cannot control the other vehicles on the road, that might refuse to adapt their driving to the road conditions. Many winter-related auto accidents are caused by the motorists driving at speeds that are unsafe for the conditions, or drivers failing to stay home when the conditions are virtually “undrivable” due to close to zero visibility from a blizzard or fog. If you’ve been injured in a weather-related traffic accident, it’s a good idea to have a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
WEATHER-RELATED SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS
Slip and fall accidents are premises liability claims that are based on a property owner’s responsibility to keep their property safe. Weather-related slip and fall accidents are usually caused by ice and snow. It is necessary to show that the owner had proper “notice” in order to make a claim. For example, if you slip during a blizzard, you cannot sue the property owner if you slip on the snow on their land, unless they have done something to worsen the natural condition. It is not reasonable to expect a property owner to spend the entire time a blizzard is raging removing snow! The property owner is expected to commence clean up at some reasonable time after the storm has stopped. If the property owner attempts clean up during the storm, and makes the situation worse by melting the snow which become more slippery as a result, he could be liable for this action.
WEATHER-RELATED CONSTRUCTION ACCIDENTS
Construction work is always hazardous, and weather-related problems can make it even more dangerous! Construction companies must using prudence is stopping work when high winds, sleet, ice and rain make construction work prohibitively dangerous. Low temperatures at high elevations can cause frostbite and other serious injuries. Weather-related construction accidents are a serious problem in the Northeast.
Weather-related construction accidents are one of the leading causes of catastrophic injuries and death for workers on construction sites. Despite the the fact that workers compensation law prohibits suing employers, there are many exceptions that allow such lawsuits, as well as claims against third parties, manufacturers and retailers of defective safety devices that might have prevented the accident.
The Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), creates hazards for construction sites such as slippery conditions for forklifts, dump trucks and other construction vehicles. These conditions on construction sites also make the use of ladders, scaffolding and lifts more dangerous. Extremely cold temperatures also cause health problems for construction workers.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), refers to impact of cold weather on the body as “cold stress.” It can be a factor in the following conditions:
Prolonged exposure to cold and wet conditions can cause this serious injury of the foot.
This life-threatening drop in body temperature that common on construction sites.
This freezing of tissues and skin can have serious long term repercussions.
How do weather-related construction accidents happen? Wet, slippery conditions can increase the risk of falls from ladders, scaffolding and cranes. Trench and tunnel collapses are more likely in damp weather or when snow has accumulated. Wind can increase the risk of a crane collapse and also of falling material and debris. Downed power lines and trees make electrocution accidents more likely. Crush accidents become more common due to the instability of moving heavy objects in bad weather.
OSHA offers advice to workers and employers on how to have a safer construction site during bad weather. Workers should dress in layers, and wear insulated waterproof gloves. They should always have an extra set of clothing to change into, in case what they are wearing gets wet. They should also keep an eye on each other, and wear safety gear. Employers should do routine maintenance and repairs when the weather is warmer, and make sure to check workers for “cold stress” symptoms. When the weather’s too bad to work, they should call it a day, preventing a weather-related construction accident.
Wittenstein & Wittenstein has been helping injured New Yorkers for more than sixty years. We have the reputation and experience you need to collect the highest amount of compensation possible. Please call us for a free consultation at 718-261-8114