Premises liability is a legal theory under which property owners or occupiers are responsible for accidents occurring on their premises. A wide range of injuries can give rise to premises liability claims, but the fact that you sustained an injury on someone else’s property does not automatically mean you have a case. To recover compensation, you must prove certain elements.
What Are the Elements of a Premises Liability Claim in New York?
Property owners and occupiers can be held legally accountable for failing to provide a safe environment for visitors, customers, or tenants when that failure results in injury. To recover compensation in a premises liability lawsuit, you must establish the following elements of your claim:
- You were lawfully on the property when the injury occurred: This means you were invited onto the property or hired to perform some type of work or had implicit permission to be on the premises. Customers and clients of restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses are considered “invited” onto the property.
- The property owner was negligent in fixing an unsafe condition on the property: You must prove that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to remedy it or to provide adequate warning of the danger.
- The property owner’s negligence caused your injuries: For example, if your landlord was negligent in maintaining the electrical system in your dwelling and you were burned in a fire caused by faulty wiring, you must establish the link between the negligence and your injuries.
- Damages resulted from your injuries: You sustained harm and losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Are Visitors on a Property Classified in New York?
In the past, visitors to a property were classified in one of three ways in New York:
- Invitees: These are friends, family members, customers, or clients who were explicitly invited onto the property.
- Licensees: Persons who have implicit permission to enter and remain on the premises, such as door-to-door salesmen, are considered licensees.
- Trespassers: These are persons with no legal right to enter the property.
A property owner’s duty to maintain safe conditions on a premises in New York is now measured by the foreseeability of a visitor on the property, regardless of the visitor’s status. However, a person who was injured while trespassing may have difficulty recovering damages unless he or she can prove that the owner placed hazards maliciously with the intent to harm trespassers.
Types of Premises Liability Accidents
Various types of accidents can give rise to premises liability claims. Common examples include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents on wet or slippery floors
- Trip-and-fall accidents caused by loose or broken floors, stairs, steps, or sidewalks
- Weather-related falls, if snow and ice are not cleared promptly from pathways
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Inadequate building security, leading to assault or injury
- Construction site accidents
- Fires caused by faulty electrical systems that have not been properly maintained
- Injuries caused by toxic fumes or chemicals on a property
Why You Need an Attorney
Premises liability claims depend heavily on the circumstances surrounding the accident, and not every person injured on another’s property is eligible to receive compensation. To prevail in court, you must demonstrate that the property owner was negligent. You must show that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the safety hazard that caused your injuries and failed to correct it or adequately warn visitors about it. In many cases, when property owners learn that an injury occurred, they will immediately perform repairs to eliminate evidence and to prevent future injuries.
If you have been seriously injured, your best course of action is to speak with a New York personal injury attorney as soon as possible, so your accident can be investigated, and the evidence to support your claim can be collected and preserved. Call The Case Handler team at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP at 212-608-3734 for a dedicated legal advocate in your premises liability claim.