Can a person file a lawsuit against my business because he supposedly slipped and fell on ice in front of my business?

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Can a person file a lawsuit against my business because he supposedly slipped and fell on ice in front of my business?

The person is saying in winter he fell on some ice that was on the sidewalk. This can not be true because I clean the sidewalks when it snowed (every morning) and also everything in front of the building to the curb (sidewalk and everything). I checked with the local police department and they do not have a report of an incident occurring. Also, I have not seen anyone fall. His lawyer is sending me threatening letters saying if I do not have my insurance company pay, they will file a lawsuit. So what can I do? Can he file a law suit like that?

Asked on August 6, 2011 New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Businesses have an obligation to keep the sidewalk in front of their premises clear of snow and ice. If they do not, they may be liable for the injuries of anyone who slips and falls, if they had the opportunity to keep the sidewalk clear and did not. Thus, on the law, the person *may* have a cause of action against your business. As you note, the main issue is likely to be factual--did he in fact slip and fall, when there is no incident report, you did not see a fall, etc. That may mean that he will lose in lawsuit IF he can't prove the incident, but that will not prevent a lawsuit from being filed in the first instance, forcing you (or your insurer) to at least defend. If you have not done so already, report the incident to your insurer and let them investigatate and defend.


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