According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), unintentional falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury. For most age groups, fall rates outstrip the second leading cause, unintentional “struck by” accidents, by as much as 300%. In 2012 alone, nearly 9 million Americans were treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by unintentional falls.
Slips, trips, falls, and other property-related accidents are almost always considered “unintentional.” No one wants them to happen, and few see them coming until it’s too late. But it’s rare that these accidents are truly blameless. Most are caused by some form of negligence – when a property owner fails to address “reasonably foreseeable” hazards on their premises.
Premises Liability Lawsuits In New York City
Accident victims injured by a property owner’s negligence are well protected by the City of New York’s legal system. A long history of precedents has established a legal doctrine known as “premises liability,” which establishes and maintains a visitor or guest’s right to safety.
Defining Premises Liability
Premises liability is a simple, ethical concept. At its foundation is a basic agreement between the owners of property and those who lawfully visit those properties.
For obvious reasons, New Yorkers can’t just stay at home. We need to travel elsewhere -to businesses, apartment buildings, offices, schools, and private homes – to do our business, purchase necessary items, and receive necessary services. But in order to do so, we need to be reasonably assured that we won’t be put in harm’s way.
In exchange for our continued business, property owners implicitly agree to address hazards that might cause us injury. If a property owner fails to do so, and we get hurt, they can be held liable for our damages: medical expenses, lost wages, and past and future pain and suffering.
Can I Sue For My Premises Injury?
The New York City premises injury attorneys at Banville Law are committed to holding negligent property owners accountable. We offer a free consultation to all injured parties seeking more information on their options, whether or not those choices include a personal injury lawsuit.
Valid premises liability claims are almost always based on four preconditions. If the following outline accurately describes your own situation, you may have a case:
1. You visited the owner’s property for lawful reasons.
New York State law places all visitors into one of three categories:
- Invitees have the owner’s explicit or implied permission to enter the property. Generally, this category includes consumers, who enter a business to perform legal transactions, or social guests at a private residence or apartment. Obviously, retail establishments “invite” shoppers simply by being open to the public. This category also includes drivers using parking lots, as long as they enter lots with a lawful purpose, like shopping at the mall.
- Licensees covers any guest who enters another person’s property, with express or implied consent, for their own purposes. The licensee category is generally limited to salesmen who are invited onto property that is usually not public.
- Trespassers defines persons who are neither implicitly nor explicitly invited onto a property. In most cases, a property owner does not need to prove that a trespasser was attempting to engage in unlawful behavior, but only that they were not performing any reasonable duty for the owner. Trespassers, even those injured due to a hazard, are ineligible from pursuing a premises liability personal injury suit.
2. There was a hazard on the property, and the owner should have known.
Dangerous ice on a sidewalk, spilled liquid in the aisle of a convenience store, crumbling steps outside a residence: there are numerous hazards that could lead to an unintentional injury. It is the plaintiff’s burden to prove that the hazard existed and that the property owner should have been aware of its hazardous nature. It is not necessary to prove that the property owner actually knew about the hazard, only that a reasonable person could have foreseen its damaging consequences.
Generally, an element of time must be considered here. If soup was spilled on the floor at 11:42 a.m., and you slipped at 11:43 a.m., you probably don’t have a case. The property owner must have been given adequate time to recognize the hazard and address it. If they failed to do so within a reasonable period of time, they can be found negligent. Cases have also been successfully argued in which property owners attempted to fix a problem, but did so improperly.
3. You were injured, and the hazard directly caused your accident.
You now have to prove that your injuries, the primary damages for which you are seeking compensation, were caused by the property’s hazardous conditions.
Common Types Of Premises Injury
Without a doubt, slip, trip, and fall accidents are the most common premises-related injuries. But a property owner’s duty to the public only begins with preventing falls. Below, you’ll find descriptions of premises liability claims that our lawyers frequently address.
Slip & Fall Accidents
- Slip and fall on ice or snow. In New York City, it is a property owner’s responsibility to shovel sidewalks adjacent to their residence or business.
- Trip and fall on neglected sidewalks and broken flagstones.
- Slip and fall in stores, bodegas, supermarkets, and malls.
- Slip and fall on apartment building stairs, caused by inadequate or broken railing or decaying steps.
- Slip and fall in a health club, gym, or spa.
- Trip and fall on a defective escalator.
- Slip and fall on city property, including MTA facilities.
- Trip and fall in unrepaired potholes or in parking lots.
As New York City slip and fall attorneys, most of our cases involve a legal concept known as “premises liability.”
What Is New York City Premises Liability?
Premises liability defines and upholds a basic ethical principle, an agreement between those who own property and those who legally visit or use that property. When we walk into a business in order to purchase a product or climb the stairs in an apartment building to reach our room, we enter into a legal agreement with the property owner. In exchange for our business, for our continued, profitable use of the property, the property owner agrees to maintain that business in reasonably safe condition.
What Conditions Satisfy Premises Liability?
For the legal concept of premises liability to stand in a court of law, several conditions must be in place. Do these descriptions match the circumstances of your New York City slip and fall accident?
You were on the owner’s property lawfully.
You are legally considered an “invitee” if you entered a business with the purpose of performing a lawful transaction. Business owners implicitly “invite” customers onto their premises. A “licensee” is a person who entered to remain on a premises for any reason other than business. Generally, this category includes house or apartment guests invited over for social reasons.
For legal purposes, a “trespasser” is the only defined person not eligible to pursue personal injury claims for accidents incurred on another’s property. Trespassers are simply those not explicitly or implicitly invited onto a property. Generally, one does not need to prove that a trespasser had unlawful intent in entering a property, but only that they were not performing any duty for the property owner.
The property was hazardous in some way.
There was a hazardous condition present on the property, but the property owner did nothing to fix the problem, or warn the injured visitor of its existence. In many cases, a personal injury lawyer need only prove that a property owner should have known about the hazards. Our NYC premises liability lawyers have also successfully handled cases in which property owners attempted to fix problems, but did so improperly.
The property owner failed to protect you.
The final step in any personal injury claim is to connect the dots. A slip and fall lawyer will have to ultimately prove that a property owner’s negligence, their inability to fix or warn visitors of a dangerous condition, caused the injuries for which you are seeking compensation.
An experienced slip and fall attorney in New York City will have to prove that all of the conditions listed above were fulfilled in your situation to build a successful personal injury claim.
What Do New York’s Property Owners Need To Do To Keep Me Safe?
In our decades of personal injury experience, the slip and fall lawyers at Banville Law have handled claims involving the following hazards, all of which were violations of “premises liability”:
- Failure to remove ice & snow from New York City sidewalks
- Failure to repair broken & uneven sidewalks in NYC
- Failure to properly address slippery floors in New York’s restaurants, bars, & night clubs
- Failure to warn visitors of hazards on New York City and State of New York property
- Failure to repair defective escalators & elevators
- Failure to maintain safe conditions on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) property
- Failure to fix hazards in New York City apartments & condominium common areas
- Failure to remove hazards from stores & supermarkets in New York City
- Failure to adequately address unsafe conditions in NYC office buildings
- Failure to properly maintain health clubs, spas & gyms
- Failure to fix broken & uneven stairs
- Failure to adequately address potholes on the streets and sidewalks of NYC
- Failure to repair hazards in shopping mall and municipal parking lots
Fire Escape Accidents
As residents of New York City, we’re used to living in close quarters. But with so many buildings constructed on top of one another, fires can move fast. Over the years, NYC has developed a long list of requirements for the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of fire escapes. Despite ongoing regulation enhancements, many apartment buildings and offices are equipped only with out-of-date, broken, or improperly positioned fire escapes.
The consequences of a property’s negligence in regard to fire escape maintenance can be devastating. Faced with an unusable fire escape, victims may sustain life-threatening burns, or fall from heights in an attempt to use a broken fire escape.
Collapsed Building Accidents
Buildings are meant to protect us from the elements and intruders. Construction requires extensive foresight; hundreds of individuals with narrow expertise work together to create every mixed-use development in Brooklyn, every high-rise in Manhattan, an apartment building in Queens. Whether or not we realize, we put our trust in professionals every time we go home or walk into our office’s lobby.
When buildings in New York City collapse, lives are changed forever. The personal injury lawyers at Banville Law have successfully handled a number of cases involving structural failure, which are exceedingly difficult because they involve catastrophic injuries or death. Among others, negligence claims can be filed against:
- Property owners
- General Contractors
Read more about building collapses and your options for legal recourse here.
Dog Bite Accidents
New York is actually pretty tough on dog owners with vicious animals. Victims are protected by “strict liability.” If you or your pet were bitten by a dog, its owner must pay your medical bills. It is not necessary to prove a history of vicious, or damaging, activity to receive compensation for your immediate recovery.
But New York City is also home to the “one bite” rule. Some dogs have been shown to have a “vicious propensity” in the past, simply by biting people. If a dog has been proven vicious and bites again, its owner may be held responsible for noneconomic damages, as well as medical bills.
These laws hold true for:
- Dog bites on private and public property
- Dog bites in public parks
- Dog attacks caused by violations of NYC’s leash laws
- Ongoing infections
New York City’s premises liability laws extend to protect those victimized or attacked on someone else’s property. But there are fairly strict limitations to this protection.
A plaintiff must show that the attack was reasonably foreseeable, that a property owner was negligent in maintaining adequate security measures. In most cases, this includes showing that the area had a history of crime and that the property’s safety equipment was insufficient. Landlords, university administrations, schools, banks, and places of employment have all been held liable for assaults that occurred on their properties.
You can learn more about negligent security cases here.
Contact A New York City Premises Liability & Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered injury because of a property owner’s negligence, call the experienced New York City premises injury attorneys at Banville Law today. We offer a free consultation to all accident victims who want to learn more about their rights and options. Our attorneys always offer their services on a contingency-fee basis: You owe nothing until we win your case.