New York Premises Liability Lawyer
Premises liability law is a subset of personal injury law. An injury suffered on public or private premises stemming from the property owner’s negligence is compensable based on premises liability law.
If you were injured on someone else’s premises, whether it was a store, your rented apartment, a hotel, a nightclub, a mall, a parking lot, or a neighbor’s home, talk to a lawyer about it.
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have spent decades fighting for justice against property owners whose negligence caused an injury.
An example of our commitment is our representation in a case in which a 25-year-old student died as a result of a fire in her Bronx apartment. She smelled smoke caused by garbage burning on the building’s second floor and attempted to escape. Sadly she could not, because the stairwell did not have fire doors and was painted with flammable paint. She fell unconscious from smoke on the fourth floor. Burns covered 90 percent of her body. She suffered extreme pain, and lived for just 17 days before dying of her injuries. Jacoby & Meyers, LLP attorneys reached a $3.25 million settlement for her estate.
Negligence and Property Owners
All property owners owe a duty of care to the public. This duty of care is several-fold. Property owners must maintain their buildings in a safe condition at all times. If unsafe conditions develop, the owner must fix them promptly. Property owners must also regularly inspect and maintain their premises.
Property owners of business establishments are, of course, not always on the premises. In that case, they bear responsibility for properly training employees to meet these duties of care to the public. They also must provide adequate supervision of employees at all times.
Failure to meet this duty of care is negligence. Negligence opens the property owner to liability, which is financial responsibility for injuries that result specifically from the negligence.
What Injuries Occur in Premises Liability Cases?
The types of injuries that result from premises liability accidents are very wide-ranging, simply because premises liability covers such a wide spectrum of potential accidents and damage.
Some examples can help illustrate the variety:
- A head injury caused when a store’s patron was struck on the head by an improperly placed case of goods.
- A broken leg suffered by a store’s patron who slipped and fell on ice on the sidewalk directly in front of the store.
- A sprained ankle caused by a patron tripping over an improperly installed carpet in a hotel.
- Cuts and bruises caused when a shopper slipped and fell on spilled liquid in a grocery store.
- A broken arm caused by a patron falling improperly lighted stairs in a bar.
- A spinal cord injury caused by a resident falling from an improperly secured fire escape while attempting to escape a fire.
- Burns from an electrical fire caused by improperly maintained electrical wiring in a rental building.
- Death caused by an improperly installed refrigerator toppling on a small child.
- A head injury caused by a swimmer diving into the shallow end of a swimming pool, due to lack of warning signs.
- Multiple injuries from an assault, if the assailants gained entry as a result of defective security systems in a commercial building.
- Drowning after a child entered an unfenced and unsupervised swimming pool.
The list could go on and on, unfortunately. Any situation or condition stemming from a property owner’s failure to make their premises safe or to promptly repair unsafe conditions can result in injury and harm.
What Damage Compensation Can I Receive?
People injured in a premises liability accident can receive compensation for the damage resulting from the accident.
The damage categories available in New York state follow:
- Medical bills – For doctor’s visits, emergency room care, ambulance transportation, hospitalization, surgery, diagnostic tests, physical therapy, prescription medication, retrofitting a home to accommodate disability caused by the injuries, and more.
- Wages lost from work – If either the incident itself or medical treatment causes the victim to lose time from work.
- Diminished work expectancy – If the injuries make it impossible for a victim to work at their previous job or at all, their compensation can include the earnings they would otherwise have received.
- Pain and suffering – Non-economic losses such as pain and suffering are compensable.
What Is My Premises Liability Claim Worth in New York State?
Once you see the compensable categories—to say nothing about the bills that have started to accumulate from doctors, imaging, counseling, and more—you might wonder what your claim is worth in monetary terms. It’s a natural question.
No legal claim, though, comes with a specific monetary figure attached. Monetary damages depend on the nature and extent of your injuries and their overall impact on your life. Because the nature and extent of injuries and their impact is variable, so are settlements.
Some general principles exist, though, that are helpful to understand.
- First, you add up all relevant costs for medical treatment. If you expect to need medical treatment in the future as the result of the injuries, expert testimony may estimate the cost.
- Second, the money you lost while not working determines your lost income.
- Third, any diminished work expectancy also uses your income, but computes your earnings over your life expectancy rather than a specific time frame.
- Fourth, pain and suffering is more subjective. A spinal cord injury that results in partial paralysis, for example, may result in more compensation, because paralysis is not treatable. A broken leg, though painful, may heal and may not leave a lasting effect, so it may generally result in less compensation.
Injuries that affect a person’s specific livelihood may also result in greater amounts of compensation.
Does It Matter Whether I Was Invited Onto The Premises?
In some states, a property owner’s duty of care toward the public hinges on whether a person received an invitation to enter the property. Businesses are considered to have issued an implicit invitation to potential customers. A trespasser, however, is often not owed the same type of duty of care in many states.
New York state, however, does not make a distinction exactly like that. Briefly, the law does recognize three different classes of the public potentially on-premises.
- Invitees, who are on the premises for a business purpose. EXAMPLES: patrons of businesses open to the public, renters, users of public premises such as parking lots.
- Licensees, who are specifically invited onto private property. EXAMPLES: relatives or friends invited to a home, repair persons installing or repairing items in a home.
- Trespassers, who enter a property not generally open to the public, such as a home, without the owner’s knowledge or invitation.
In New York, property owners have a duty of care to make their property reasonably safe for all these categories.
If you have trespassed on private property, however, you may need to prove that the property owner could reasonably have foreseen your presence. Say that neighbor children always take a shortcut through a neighbor’s property, to the point where a path has worn through the property. If you take the same path and stumble over equipment the property owner has left out and injure yourself, the property owner may bear responsibility. But if you cut through a neighbor’s yard when there is no such custom and you are new to the neighborhood, proving the property owner’s responsibility may become more complicated.
Specific Type Of Premises Liability In New York State
Come summer, many people head to the nearest swimming pool, whether it’s owned by a country club, a neighbor, or the municipality.
While swimming pools are potentially wonderful, they are also potentially dangerous. Roughly 3,700 people drowned in swimming pools in a recent year, and drowning is the leading cause of preventable death in one- to four-year-olds. Swimming pool owners have specific duties of care related to these dangers.
First, any property owner who opens a pool to the public or guests is responsible for ensuring adequate supervision, including lifeguards for public pools.
Second, they must adequately and fully maintain a swimming pool and its surroundings in a safe condition. Slippery areas surrounding the pool that cause someone to fall can make a property owner potentially liable.
Third, if an injury occurs due to lack of a fence around a pool, the owner may bear responsibility.
Fourth, property owners need to post common warning signs (such as “don’t dive, shallow water” or “no running”) as appropriate. The signs need to be adequately visible as well (that is, of sufficient size and not obscured).
Property owners in New York state are required to provide reasonable basic security to protect the public from reasonably foreseeable crimes. An office building, for example, should make its building and parking areas secure if crimes against property or persons occur regularly in the neighborhood. Commercial establishments like bars, nightclubs, and hotels need to provide security for their patrons.
The type of security required can vary from security guards to accessibility systems to lighting. In general, if property owners are negligent in providing security or the security they have provided doesn’t work, they may be liable for physical assaults and monetary crimes (such as purse snatching).
Some examples of potential negligent security include:
- No security cameras, systems, or guards.
- Inadequately trained or vetted security personnel.
- Broken windows.
- No locks or broken locks.
- Failure to warn or notify the public of recent criminal activity.
- Inadequate or no lighting.
- Malfunctioning or insufficient surveillance cameras.
- Unsecure entryways.
Slip and Falls
Slippery surfaces, such as wet floors from spilled liquid, are a frequent cause of slip and falls in stores. Icy or snow-covered surfaces on sidewalks, paths, or parking lots are another frequent cause; owners are responsible for clearing their entryways and directly adjacent sidewalks.
Broken or inadequately maintained stairs and flooring can also cause slip and fall accidents, as can inadequate or nonexistent lighting.
Dog owners may bear responsibility for dog bites under two scenarios. First, the owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by a dangerous dog. A dangerous dog is specifically defined as one that has either attacked and injured (or killed) a person, another pet, or a farm animal without provocation or is behaving in a manner that makes a reasonable person believe they are a serious and unjustified threat.
Second, if a dog bites or attacks due to negligence on the owner’s part, such as a failure to restrain the dog with a fence or leash, the owner may bear responsibility.
New York Premises Liability Frequently Asked Questions
When you walk into a store or a restaurant, chances are that you don’t normally give much thought to your personal safety. Yes, you stay alert and watch for potential dangers, but generally, when you walk into a place of business, you do so with the expectation that you will be safe.
So what happens when you suffer an injury on someone else’s property? New York’s premises liability laws protect victims in the case of an injury on someone else’s property. But what does this mean? What are your rights? And how do you get the help you deserve? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding New York premises liability.
What is New York premises liability?
If you’ve never heard the term premises liability, don’t worry. Unless you’re a lawyer, it’s not usually a term that gets tossed around a lot. In its most basic form, premises liability refers to a property owner’s responsibility to make sure their property does not pose a risk to guests. This means the property owner should maintain their property, block off any dangerous areas, and warn visitors of any potential risks. If an injury happens because of a property owner’s negligence, that person may hold financial liability.
New York premises liability is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of personal injury matters. These include:
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents: While a slip and fall accident may seem like a minor event, these accidents can lead to serious injuries. Slip and fall accidents often happen when a property owner fails to take necessary action before or after inclement weather or as the result of a spill. Trip and fall accidents can happen because of uneven flooring or pavement or an unexpected drop-off. Possible injuries may include brain injury, strains or sprains, broken bones, or spinal cord injuries.
- Swimming pool accidents: A pool can be dangerous, no matter how good a swimmer you are. Children are especially at risk of swimming pool accidents. The American Red Cross reports that 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day. Two of these victims are children. For every child drowning victim, another five go to the emergency room for non-fatal near-drowning injuries. Because of the known dangers of swimming pools, New York requires all public and private pools to have a barrier at least four feet tall surrounding any swimming area. If a property owner fails to abide by state law and ensure proper safety measures are in place, serious injury or death can occur.
- Fire: According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 499,000 structural fires in 2018. Of these, 276,500 occurred at a single-family residence and 85,000 occurred at an apartment building. Not all fires are preventable. However, all property owners have a duty to make sure their building complies with state building and fire codes.
- Assault: In most cases, a property owner is not responsible for a crime that happens on their property. The exception to this is if the property owner knew of dangerous conditions and failed to take appropriate action. For instance, in areas of high crime, it may be appropriate for a business owner to install lighting or provide security.
- Dog bites: Dog bites are serious. Even small dogs can rip skin and cause tissue damage, scarring, and infection. New York law requires dog owners to maintain control of their animals. Regardless of whether a dog bites you at its home or in a public place, the dog owner is probably financially responsible for your injuries.
How do I know if I have a New York premises liability case?
The best way to decide whether you have a premises liability case is to talk to an experienced New York premises liability attorney at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP. The attorney can help you review the facts of the case and advise you about whether you should move forward with legal action.
Every case must meet three requirements to have legal standing:
- The injured party was a guest. Premises liability does not generally cover trespassers (although there are a few exceptions, see below). Guests included invited persons and instances where an invitation is implied, such as in places of business that are open to the public.
- The property owner was negligent. You can’t sue a property owner for a fluke accident or something that was your fault. For example, if you broke your leg because you thought it would be fun to climb a tree, the property owner probably won’t be liable. However, if there was a treehouse in the tree and your child fell while climbing up, the owner may be liable.
- Your injuries were the result of the property owner’s negligence. You can’t file a suit if the unsafe conditions did not lead to an injury. In the same regard, the property owner is not liable for injuries that are the result of a separate injury or accident.
Your rights matter. You only have a limited amount of time to file a case if you decide to take legal action. If you’re not sure whether you have a premises liability case, contact our New York premises liability attorneys today.
What do I do after a New York premises liability injury?
Your health and safety are the number one priority. If ever you feel threatened or unsafe, get yourself to a safe location. To preserve your rights for compensation and prove your case, take the following steps after an accident after an accident.
- Check for injuries. If you have a serious injury, do not attempt to move. Ask someone to call for help.
- Survey the scene. How did the accident happen? Look for any evidence that may show negligence. This may include direct physical evidence, such as a spill on the ground, or unsafe conditions, such as a missing or broken barrier surrounding a pool.
- Gather evidence. Take pictures if you can. Premises liability cases often come down to your word against the property owner’s word. The more evidence you can provide to prove your case, the better.
- Report the accident. Tell the property owner or manager on duty what happened and how it happened. Do not disclose any information about your injuries or say anything that may imply you were at fault.
- Go to the doctor. As humans, we tend to “tough it out.” Don’t do this. If you sustain an injury, delaying treatment is likely to make your injuries worse. Tell your doctor about any pain or unusual symptoms you are experiencing. Do not exaggerate your symptoms, lie about how you feel, or admit fault. Your medical records are one of the most important pieces of evidence in your New York premises liability case.
- Contact an experienced New York premises liability attorney. If someone else’s negligence causes you injury, you may be eligible for financial compensation. An experienced New York premises liability attorney can help you understand your rights and negotiate and fair and reasonable settlement on your behalf.
Can I sue the property owner if I was trespassing?
In most cases, premises liability only covers guests and lessees. However, there are two notable exceptions:
- The property owner knew you were there: In cases where a property knows the trespasser is on their land and fails to take action, they owe the trespasser the same duty of care as they would an invited guest.
- Attractive nuisance: Cornell Law defines an attractive nuisance as a “hazardous object or condition on the land that is likely to attract children who are unable to appreciate the risk posed by the object or condition.” This means that if a child sneaks into someone’s yard to use the pool or trampoline and gets hurt, the property owner is likely to be held liable. In such a case, the property owner should have known the risk and taken extra steps to ensure children could not access the property.
If you are hurt while you are on someone else’s property, it’s important to talk to an experienced legal professional right away. A New York premises liability attorney can help you determine whether you have legal standing for a case and help you determine the best route forward.
How much compensation can I expect from my New York premises liability case?
Money won’t take away your injuries, but it can help you breathe a little easier. Hospital bills are expensive and the added stress of worrying about how you will pay your bills can slow down your recovery. The sooner you talk to a New York premises liability attorney, the sooner they can begin working with the at-fault party’s insurance company to attempt to help you secure a reasonable settlement.
Each case is different and the outcome will depend on the unique circumstances involved. However, there are some pieces of evidence you can expect to be a part of your New York premises liability case.
- Medical bills: The goal of any New York premises liability case is to recover all costs related to your medical treatment. If you have to pay a deductible or co-pay, your attorney will include these costs as part of your claim. Different insurance companies have different limitations as to what they will and will not cover, but, generally, medical costs include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, medication, medical devices, and rehabilitation.
- Lost wages: Serious injuries may mean lost time at work. A New York premises liability claim can help you recoup the income you lost during your treatment and recovery. If your injuries limit your ability to work or you cannot return to work at all, you may receive future lost wages.
- Pain and suffering: Injuries can cause serious physical and emotional trauma that may last well beyond the time of the initial injury. In some cases, victims are awarded compensation for pain and suffering, including physical pain, mental distress, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
- Loss of companionship: A serious injury can affect a loved one’s physical or emotional state. When this happens, the victim’s family can file a claim for loss of companionship.
How long do I have to file a New York premises liability case?
If you want to take legal action, it’s important to talk to an experienced premises liability attorney right away. In New York, victims have three years to file a premises liability case. After this time, a court will likely dismiss the case. If you are beyond the statute of limitations, it’s still a good idea to talk to a lawyer. In some cases, the court may toll the statute of limitations or grant you an exception.
Some examples where this might happen include:
- Fraud: If a property owner wants to skirt liability, they may lie to hide the facts of the case. If you discover the facts were different from what was initially apparent, the court may allow you to present your case.
- Delayed discovery of liability: Sometimes liability is not straightforward. For example, after an apartment fire, you might write the fire off as an accident. But what happens if five years down the road a new owner discovers the fire systems that should have alerted you of danger were out of date? In such a case, you may be able to sue the property owner for damages.
- You are unable to find the other party: You cannot serve the at-fault party if you don’t know where they are. If the defendant is missing, hiding, or you are otherwise unable to locate them, the court may grant you an extension until you can properly serve the other party.
- The victim was a minor: Under New York law, a parent can sue for injuries sustained by their minor child. However, if the parents do not sue, the child may still pursue legal action on their own once they turn 18. In this case, the three-year statute of limitations will not begin until the victim turns 18.
Don’t Let Your Questions Go Unanswered
After an accident, it’s normal to have questions. An experienced legal professional can help you find answers. To learn more about your rights after a premises liability injury, contact the experienced New York premises liability attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, today.
Call Our New York Premises Liability Attorneys Now
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York premises liability incident, contact the experienced attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP through our online contact page, start a chat with one of our live representatives, or give us a call at (877) 565-2993. Our initial consultation is entirely free to you.
We also handle cases on a contingency basis, so our fees only come out of a successful settlement. If you do not receive compensation, you owe nothing. Call now.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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