All New York property owners are responsible for ensuring that their property is reasonably safe from hazardous conditions for guests, patrons, and visitors. How can you prove that the property owner is negligent when a property owner is careless and fails to maintain the safe conditions of their property? Is premises liability the same as negligence?
At Hach & Rose, LLP, we know how challenging it can be to unravel New York’s complicated premises liability and negligence statutes. We want to help you understand what it takes to prove that a New York property owner is negligent and responsible for compensating you for your financial losses.
What Is Premises Liability?
Following an accident on someone else’s property, premises liability, and negligence are terms you often hear. However, understanding the legal definition of these words can be challenging. Premises liability and legal negligence are legal concepts.
Negligence occurs when someone engages in careless or reckless behavior without regard for others, resulting in another individual getting hurt. It is essentially an action or omission inconsistent with the actions or behavior of a reasonable individual in similar circumstances.
New York premises liability laws are laws designed to protect individuals from dangerous conditions present on another person’s property. The heart of the premises liability claims rests on the fact that the property owner knew a hazardous condition existed but did not take action to address the dangerous nature of the problem.
Premises liability claims fit under the general legal definition of negligence. To successfully mount a premises liability claim, you must demonstrate a property owner carelessly ignored their duty of care and failed to remedy a dangerous property condition.
Examples of Defective New York Property Conditions
Property owners must maintain the safety and security of their property for all patrons, residents, and guests. Failing to take this obligation seriously can lead to environmental hazards and tragic accidents. Some of the most common examples of defective or unsafe New York property conditions can include:
- Incompletely or poorly uncleared snow or ice
- Wet or slippery flooring
- Torn carpet or rugs
- Uneven flooring
- Cracked sidewalks
- Broken tiles
- Tripping hazards
- Pavement defects and potholes in parking lots and garages
- Unmarked steps
- Broken handrails on stairways
- Elevator malfunctions
- Fire door and fire alarm malfunctions
- Poor lighting
- Exposed cords or wires
- Improper signage warning of hazards
- New York code violations
- Inadequate security
- Improperly trained security
These and other hazardous conditions can lead to traumatic slip-and-fall accidents, assaults, and other incidents that can cost a person their physical health and financial well-being.
How to Prove a Property Owner is Negligent
Proving that a property owner is legally negligent can feel like an uphill battle, especially without the help of an experienced New York premises liability attorney. There are several elements you must demonstrate to present a solid and compelling premises liability claim.
The first element involves showing the existence of the dangerous conditions on the property at the time of the accident. Next, you must establish that the property owner knew or should have reasonably known about the hazardous condition or situation. This element can be one of the most challenging to prove. Finally, an injured individual must also show that because of the careless actions of the property owner, they suffered an injury, and that injury caused significant financial losses.
Getting an experienced attorney on your side as soon as possible is the best action to take following an accident on someone else’s property. Proving that a property owner knew about the danger and that they had the opportunity to take reasonable corrective action but failed to do so can be challenging. An attorney can immediately begin investigating the cause of the accident while collecting and preserving evidence vital to your case.
A skilled New York premises liability attorney can also manage negotiations between you and the insurer or prepare a case for court depending on the circumstances of your situation.
When Is a Property Owner Not Negligent?
Property owners owe a duty of care to the tenants, visitors, and patrons they serve. However, there are situations where a property owner may not necessarily be negligent when an individual gets hurt on their property. New York’s contributory negligence laws may impact the value of a person’s premises liability claim when a property owner can prove that the injured individual was also careless at the time of the accident.
New York has a pure contributory negligence law, which helps courts determine how much a person can recover from a careless property owner after an accident. If a property owner can successfully demonstrate in court that the actions of the other person contributed to the cause of the accident, that person’s compensation can be reduced by the same percentage as the fault they bear.
In other words, if a person was not paying attention to their surroundings, the dangerous area was roped off, or they were wearing inappropriate footwear and any of those circumstances contributed to the accident that injured them, their compensation could decrease. Pure contributory negligence rules only bind court cases. However, insurance companies use the law as a guideline for how to value a claim.
Additionally, property owners typically only owe a duty of care to invitees and licensees, those legally allowed to enter or do business at the property. However, property owners and landlords do not necessarily owe the same duty of care to trespassers. When a trespasser gets injured on someone else’s property, they do not have the same legal protections under premises liability laws that visitors, customers, and tenants have in New York.
An Experienced New York Premises Liability Lawyer Can Help
Proving a careless property owner is responsible for your injuries can feel like a daunting challenge. Thankfully, the experienced legal team at Hach & Rose, LLP has over 20 years of experience helping clients recover the money they deserve from negligent New York property owners.