New York Premises Liability Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident on someone else’s property as a result of the property owner’s lack of care, a premises liability lawyer can help you figure out if your injury may qualify you to pursue a premises liability case and possible compensation.
Legally Reviewed By: Jud Waltman
What is premises liability law?
According to New York state laws, property owners and landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that their property is reasonably safe for visitors, residents, and employees, regardless of whether their property is private or public.
If an individual suffers an accident or injury due to the property owner’s failure to maintain reasonable safety standards or provide adequate warnings about potential hazards inside or outside their buildings, the court may find the property owner liable for the accident.
The law that governs this process is called premises liability law. Premises liability law covers a wide scope of accidents, including slip, trip, and fall situations, and includes unsafe conditions and the injuries they have caused.
Premises liability law applies to very specific conditions. For a premises liability case, you will need to show evidence of the following three factors:
- That you had a legally valid reason for visiting the premises
- That the property owner knew (or should reasonably have known) about the unsafe situation and was negligent in managing that unsafe situation by failing to take adequate action
- That you were injured because of the property owner’s negligence
The second point relates to the property owner’s duty of care. The concept of duty of care refers to the level of legal responsibility the property owner has to either do something to stop you from foreseeable injury or refrain from doing something that would cause you foreseeable injury.
Who is liable under New York premises liability law?
In most situations, the extent of the property owner’s liability is contingent on the reason for the injured party’s purpose for being on the property. On that basis, the law recognizes three specific types of visitors.
If you are visiting a property for business purposes — regardless of whether you were invited for professional reasons or visit a store as a customer — the law regards you as an invitee.
Business owners have a duty of care to keep their property reasonably safe, inspect and fix any foreseeable hazards, and warn visitors of any unsafe conditions.
If you are visiting a property for non-commercial reasons — for example, as a social guest at an acquaintance’s home — the law regards you as a licensee.
Private property owners also have a duty of care to keep their property safe for visitors and repair any hazards they should reasonably be aware of. However, they do not have the same obligation as business owners to inspect their property for hidden risks.
If you have neither been invited nor have the owner’s permission to be on any part of their property, the law would consider you a trespasser.
Generally, property owners have no duty of care to keep their property safe for trespassers or to even warn them of potential dangers, as long as these dangers are not set up intentionally — such as in the case of a trap, for instance. There are only two exceptions to this principle.
If the property owner knows a trespasser is on their property and allows the trespasser to stay on the premises, the owner will be liable for the trespasser’s injuries, as if they were a licensee
If the trespasser is a child, and there is an item on the property that could be seen as attractive to children (for example, an open pool or an animal)
In the second case, the property owner may be found liable if the child is injured because the owner failed to take sufficient steps to remove or minimize the risk. This doctrine is called attractive nuisance. It applies only in circumstances where it would be reasonable to assume the child would not have fully realized the risk of harm.
There is an important caveat for situations where you might be partially responsible for your injury as an invitee or licensee — for example, if you were wearing inappropriate attire or footwear for the situation or you were injured in a part of the property usually closed to visitors.
In these circumstances, New York state laws refer to a principle called the comparative negligence rule.
Suppose the property owner successfully claims that you were also negligent in your actions that led to the accident. This rule determines the amount taken from any damages you receive (whether in court or as part of a settlement), according to a percentage accounting for your share of the blame. For instance, if the court rules you to be 30% responsible for your injury, this will reduce your final compensation award by 30%.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases in NYC
Many unsafe situations in and around properties could lead to premises liability cases. The most common types of premises liability cases include:
Slip and fall accidents (including falls due to wet floors, ice or snow, accumulated debris, and unsecured cables)
Dog bites, insect bites, and animal attacks
Swimming pool accidents
Elevator or escalator accidents
Fires on the property
Sharp and broken objects
Falling objects and collapsed buildings
Negligent building security
Exposure to toxic chemicals on the property and/or poisoning
In New York, premises liability law can also cover construction workers who suffer an accident in the course of their job duties.
Under Section 240 (known as the “Scaffold Law”) and Section 241 of the New York Labor Law, property owners are subject to strict liability for accidents occurring at construction sites. This means there is no reduction in the damages awarded, regardless of whether the injured worker acted negligently (unless that negligence was the sole cause of their injury).
According to Swiss Re, a global corporate insurance company, New York is the only U.S. state that “imposes strict liability for practically all accidents occurring at a construction site via New York Labor Law Section 240 and 241.”
Property accidents in premises liability cases can result in varying degrees of physical, psychological, and economic harm to the victim. Other than accidental death, some of the most common types of premises liability injuries include life-changing conditions such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries and concussions
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Neck, back, and joint injuries
- Severe burns
- Severe psychological distress
- Illness from toxic chemical exposure
- Chronic pain
How much is my premises liability case worth?
In a premises liability claim, you may recover monetary damages for expenses such as medical bills, property damages, and lost wages.
Other damages may include:
- Cost of future medical treatments
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Diminished enjoyment of life
- Disability and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Compensation to the victim’s family for wrongful death
How much time do I have to file?
Under New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214, the statute of limitations for adult plaintiffs is three years from the date of the accident, even if you only intend to claim against the property owner for damages concerning your personal belongings.
For premise liability victims under the age of 18, the statute of limitations becomes effective when they turn 18. In this case, the limitation period expires on their 21st birthday. Similarly, those legally declared to be of “unsound mind” at the time of their injury will begin their three-year period once the court has deemed them mentally fit.
However, if your claim is against a public body — such as a public corporation, county, town, or school district — different rules apply. Section 50-E of the New York General Municipal Law governs these claims.
In these cases, you will need to file a notice of claim with the relevant governing entity for the public entity within 90 days from the time of the incident. After this, you must then file a lawsuit within one year and 90 days. If the incident resulted in death, the victim’s estate has two years from the date of their death to file a lawsuit.
How can Lanier Law Firm's premises
liability lawyers help you?
Lanier Law Firm’s premises liability lawyers have the expertise, knowledge, and skill needed to successfully pursue the maximum compensation you are entitled to and help you get your life back on track following your accident.
Over the past 31 years, we have supported our clients through their complex personal injury litigation across the country. We are committed to providing our clients with passionate and skilled legal representation in every case.
With more than 60 attorneys in offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Houston, we are more capable than ever of serving our clients, wherever they may be. Together, we bring decades of extensive trial experience in premises liability litigation and other personal injury lawsuits to fight for the justice you deserve.
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