What Is the Legal Standard Surrounding Premises Liability in New York?
The legal standard for slip and fall cases in New York is just the simple negligence standard, which includes duty, breach, causation, and damages. A store, for example, has a duty to make it safe for its users and its customers; if there’s, let’s say, a spill on the floor for an hour and a half and they don’t do anything about it, they’ve breached their duty. When a person slips and falls and injures themself, that breach of duty is now the cause of the injury. The damages constitute what actually happens to the victim (i.e., a broken leg).
What Are Some Examples of Conditions That May Cause a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall to Occur?
Two common examples would be a spill and a break in either the sidewalk or the floor. In the case of a spill, the spill has to be on the ground long enough for the premises to realize that it’s there. We can sometimes prove this if the spill itself is starting to dry along the edges. We look to see what type of system the store (or premise) has for self-inspection to make sure that there aren’t spills on their floor. What do they do when there is a spill? Do they put up a warning sign? Do they mop it up immediately?
The other typical cause of people tripping and falling is usually either a broken sidewalk or a broken floor inside of a premise. Unlike with a spill, ensuring the premise has had a reasonable amount of time to notice the danger is not as hard, as most people wouldn’t fall on the floor right after the damage is caused. Many times, a broken floor, a broken sidewalk, or a hole in the parking lot has been there for a very long time.
What Are Some Examples Where a Store or a Property Owner Would Not Be Held Liable in a Premises Liability Scenario?
The most common case when a store or property owner wouldn’t be held responsible involves what are called open and obvious conditions. To illustrate, imagine that you are shopping in a supermarket, not paying attention to where you are going, when you trip over a U-boat — the large wagon used to move boxes around. These U-boats are typically designed with bright orange handles so that you can see them. The store would use the defense that you weren’t paying attention and therefore contributed to your own injuries. Another example of an open and obvious condition would be a giant hole in the ground, a hole so large you couldn’t have missed it had you been paying attention to where you were walking.
Does an Accident Report Have to Have Been Filled Out at The Time of the Fall?
An accident report does not have to have been completed to enforce or defend a premise liability claim. It’s always a good idea, however, to ensure an accident report has been filed. If you fall down in a store, for instance, you should notify the management and fill out a report, and doing so will actually help you with your case. The store, at that point, should save whatever video that they have and preserve it; if you don’t tell them about your fall, they would have no way of knowing to preserve the video in a timely fashion (many videos are only stored for a short period of time). Also, it gives you an opportunity to tell your side of the story right then and there to the store and, ultimately, to their management and their insurance.
For more information on Premises Liability Claims in New York, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 766-9779 today.
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