Slipped on “Black Ice,” You Say? Well, Don’t Say It.

slipped-fell-black-iceThe phrase “black ice” is often used by slip and fall victims when explaining how their accident happened or describing their injuries to a medical professional. We know that property owners are responsible for maintaining their property after the accumulation of ice or snow, but “black ice” cases can present unique legal challenges.

What Is Black Ice?

Black ice is a transparent layer of ice on any surface that is very difficult to see. During the day, it may seem like the surface is just wet, and not icy at all, which presents different hazards. But during the night, black ice is virtually impossible to see.

Can I Sue If I Slip on Black Ice?

The New York State Court System has been reluctant to hold landowners responsible for slip and fall accidents involving black ice. The courts relieve property owners of responsibility for these types of accidents because they, the property owners, may not have known the black ice existed. Black ice is not always caused by precipitation. In fact, it is often caused by snow that is piled up along a driveway that melts and then re-freezes. This may also be caused by a drip from a gutter that then freezes on pavement, or other similar circumstances.

So, can you sue if you slip on black ice? Yes, you can. However, your case is in jeopardy if you told someone else, like a doctor or medical professional, that you slipped and fell on black ice. Alternatively, some people will report the accident to a store owner or property owner, which is good, but they make the mistake of writing the phrase “black ice” in the accident or incident report.

So we recommend that you refrain from using the phrase “black ice.” When describing your injuries or explaining the circumstances surrounding your accident, do not use the phrase black ice.  You should simply explain that you slipped on ice. Your doctor probably does not need to know what type of ice caused you to fall as the type of ice that caused you to fall is something that would interest your lawyer, not a doctor.

What Do I Do If I Slipped and Fell on Icy or Snowy Conditions?

We strongly recommend that slip and fall victims not describe the type of ice when discussing the incident with their medical providers, such as emergency room staff. Doctors don’t care if their patient slips on black ice, grey ice, or white ice. When asked by a doctor or medical provider to describe how the incident happened, it is sufficient to say “I slipped on ice.”

We also recommend that you or someone close to you take multiple pictures from different vantage points immediately after the incident, if possible.

We also recommend that you report the accident to the property owner as soon as possible, and, if asked to complete an accident report, you should do so and ask for a copy.  When completing the accident report, keep it simple: “I slipped on ice.”


Get help if you have slipped on ice and are injured. You may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Our legal team will evaluate your case—for free—and we will answer any questions you have. Call our personal injury attorneys at 845-338-8884 or send us an email. Don’t wait… we have important advice and there is no fee unless we win.