Personal InjurySlipping on Leaves – Who is Liable?

January 19, 2023

Autumn brings chillier days, pumpkin spice everything, and falling leaves to New York City. And while walking briskly through small piles of collected leaves may bring back tender childhood memories, our fondness for fallen leaves probably fades somewhat when rain turns them into slippery mats of danger. So who is liable if you slip on wet leaves and injure yourself?

Slipping on Public Property

Let’s first look at where you were when you fell. If the leaves are on a New York City street or sidewalk, they are likely considered exempt from cleaning regulations unless mixed with garbage or debris – even if the leaves are wet and slippery. As for liability for slipping and falling on them, leaves are generally considered to be open and obvious conditions that we are all expected to notice and navigate accordingly – whether they’re wet or dry.

Adding significantly to this challenge is that to successfully recover from New York City for a typical sidewalk defect, the city must have received written notice of the defect at least 15 days before the accident occurred. And because falling leaves are a temporary hazard – they eventually blow away or decay – it’s very unlikely that any specific cluster of them have been reported to the city as a sidewalk hazard within 15 days of when you happen to slip and fall on them.

Exceptions may exist, for example, where the city was responsible for piling up the leaves in a particular spot, did so in a dangerous manner, and created a dangerous condition that did not exist before.

Slipping on Private Property

If you slip and fall on leaves located on private property, it can be almost as difficult to recover compensation for your injuries as if you fell on a New York City sidewalk. Again, most piles of leaves are considered to be open and obvious conditions, but that isn’t always the case. Your status also matters: was the area you were walking free to access – like a sidewalk leading to a store entrance, for example? Or were you trespassing, perhaps taking a shortcut through someone’s backyard?

If You’ve Fallen and Been Injured, Contact Campson & Campson

If you’ve been injured after slipping and falling on wet leaves or other debris on a sidewalk or walkway, contact Paul Campson to discuss your case. He has many years of experience representing clients injured in slip and fall accidents and can help you understand whether or not your situation may entitle you to compensation, whether from an insurance company, a private property owner, or the City of New York. You can reach Paul and the team at Campson & Campson at (212) 302-1180 or through the firm’s online contact form.


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