Slip Trip and Fall Accident Lawyers In New York
Wet floor signs aren’t just there for decoration – slips, trips, and falls are among the most common ways that New Yorkers are injured. These incidents are dangerous and can result in severe injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and more. Property owners who maintain areas of high traffic, such as shopping malls, apartment buildings, and office buildings, should be held accountable for their negligence when an injury occurs on their property. If you have been injured in a slip, trip, and fall accident in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Don’t delay; secure legal representation as soon as you can so that your legal rights are protected.
At Hach & Rose, LLP, our personal injury attorneys have represented people in New York City and throughout New York since 2002. We have built a stellar reputation as a firm that truly puts the needs of the client first. We’re are proud of the settlements and jury verdicts we’ve been able to help recover for slip and fall victims. The firm is proud to have some of the finest attorneys in the state of New York, with accomplishments that include AVVO ratings of 10, members of the Million and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and have been rated by National Trial Lawyers Top 100, Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, and many more accolades, including New York Magazine, U.S. News, and World Reports.
The experienced New York slip and fall injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP can protect your rights, collect evidence, and ensure your injuries are properly documented. Our team of highly skilled and compassionate New York slip and fall lawyers are ready to fight on your behalf. Call (212) 779-0057 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation so we can discuss all your legal options.
What To Do In the Event of a Slip, Trip, and Fall
Slips, trips, and falls are categorized under the area of law known as premises liability, which encompasses claims that happen on private or public property due to negligence. Every property owner has a duty of care to others, meaning they have to take reasonable steps in order to prevent injuries on the property. When a property owner fails to take these steps, they are putting others in danger and they can be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages.
Property owners cannot claim that they assigned the management of their property to someone else, and therefore they aren’t liable. They have a nondelegable duty to maintain their property in a safe manner. This means the safety of their property cannot be delegated to someone else; they are held accountable for incidents that occur on their property.
A property owner can be held negligent if they have notice of dangerous condition. If the property owner has actual or constructive notice, these are both situations in which they can be held accountable. Actual notice is when the owner was directly informed of a dangerous condition. Constructive notice is a little more nebulous; in this case, the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition. In this case, the dangerous condition was in existence for so long that it would be reasonable to assume that they would, or should, have known about it. An example could be a leaky pipe that constantly caused puddles on a slick surface, which should have been fixed long ago.
If you have been seriously injured in a slip, trip, and fall accident in New York, it’s critical that you act promptly to protect your rights. We strongly advise you to take the following steps:
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Your health and safety should be your first priority. The full extent of your injuries may not be apparent right after your slip and fall, and you should not brush off your injuries as unimportant. Injuries are not always immediately apparent to the victim, and a doctor will know what to look for to ensure that you receive proper treatment. This is important not only for your recovery but also to document your injuries in the event that there is a lawsuit.
Seeking immediate medical attention also proves the timing of your injuries. Going to the doctor right away prevents the defendant’s attorney from being able to argue that you sustained your injuries in another way. Visiting a doctor right after your accident is the best thing you can do not only for your health, but also to create an expert record of your injuries. Be aware, that if you do not go to the doctor immediately, the people defending the lawsuit are going to claim that you weren’t hurt from the accident.
2. Report the Accident
No matter where the slip and fall occurs, report it to a manager, owner, or landlord. Make sure you get the details in writing. Ask the manager, owner, or landlord to provide a written report.
3. Limit Communication with Business Owners, Homeowners, and Witnesses
Other than reporting the accident, it’s best to keep your communication to a minimum. Don’t describe how you slipped and fell, and never admit fault. There have been instances where slip and fall cases have lost all value because the victim explained the reason for their fall, accepted blame for it, or downplayed their injuries.
If you slipped and fell on a homeowner’s property, you may tell them that you fell, but try to limit talking to them about the accident as much as possible. If you slipped and fell on a friend’s property, it’s important to note that attorneys typically seek compensation from homeowner insurance policies, rather than the defendant’s assets. In most cases, the insurance company pays the claim. If possible, try to get the name of the homeowner and collect their insurance information.
Finally, it’s important to note that once your case is reported, you may be contacted by investigators on the opposing side. Do not speak with them. These investigators will record what you say, find a way to use it against you, and argue that you shouldn’t receive compensation for your injuries. If you are pressed by an investigator for information, simply tell them that you’ve hired an attorney and the investigator can speak with them directly. If you have not hired one yet, you should do so immediately.
4. Document Everything
Take plenty of photos of the exact location where you slipped and fell. Be sure to take pictures of any stairs, icy patches, puddles, weather conditions, or any other hazardous circumstances that contributed to your fall. Take notes of what you were doing before the accident occurred, the way you slipped and fell, the date and time of the accident, and any other pertinent details. Be sure not to wash or clean the clothes and shoes you wore during the accident. Any damage or blood on your clothes could be evidence as to the seriousness of the accident.
All of these details will help your attorney build your case. However, it’s imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. With premises liability cases, things can change quickly. A video camera that recorded the scene could be wiped clean or deleted. The sidewalk could get fixed before you photograph it. Your attorney will work with investigators who will ensure these details are documented before they can disappear. Your highest priority should be rest and recovery; let your attorney focus on investigative work to prove your case.
5. Identify Witnesses
Collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all potential witnesses as their statements could help provide vital evidence should you choose to pursue a legal claim. Having witnesses can prevent the defense from trying to deny your version of events. An experienced attorney will immediately contact an investigator to take statements from witnesses and document notes about the scene. These witnesses could be crucial in your case, and can verify your version of events and testify on your behalf.
6. Do not Miss Doctor’s Appointments and Follow Your Treatment Plan
If you miss medical appointments, jurors may assume that you were not seriously injured or had begun to heal whenever you began missing appointments. The same goes for if you refuse any recommended treatment. If you don’t follow your treatment plan, the people defending will claim you are not severely injured.
7. Speak with a Lawyer
It’s very important that you discuss your case with an experienced New York premises liability attorney. At Hach & Rose, LLP, we’re committed to helping victims and families learn about their rights and their available legal options. We have the resources to help you fight back against insurance companies that don’t want to provide the compensation you need and deserve.
Types of Slip and Fall Accidents We Handle
Slip and fall accident claims are based on the property owners’ obligation to ensure their property is reasonably free of dangerous conditions and to warn visitors of the existing dangers, such as a broken escalator or a wet floor sign. These types of incidents commonly involve negligence in dealing with potential indoor and outdoor hazards such as:
- Wet floors and walkways
- Failure to post signs warning of hazards
- Accumulation of ice and snow
- Cluttered aisles and fallen merchandise
- Damaged floors
- Loose wires or cables
- Loose carpeting
- Construction debris
- Poor lighting
- Improperly maintained elevators and escalators
- Unkempt stairs and those with broken or missing handrails
Falls are some of the most common types of injuries. The World Health Organization and the CDC have released important statistics about falls, which truly highlights just how serious these incidents can be.
- Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
- Each year an estimated 646,000 individuals die from falls globally.
- Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
- 37.3 million falls that are severe enough to require medical attention occur each year.
- 1 in 5 falls causes a serious injury.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Types of Injuries that Result from Slips and Falls
A simple fall may not seem serious, but you should take any injury seriously. Though it may seem like it resulted from mere clumsiness, the resulting injuries could be severe. Some of the injuries that can result from these types of accidents can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Sprained joints
- Dislocated shoulders
- Muscle strains
- Spinal cord injuries
- Nerve damage
- Head injuries
Many of these injuries will not be immediately apparent after your fall, which is why it is so important to seek immediate medical attention. A health care provider can examine you for injuries you may not see with the naked eye. Additionally, your injury may develop in the days following your accident. It’s important to develop a record of the incident by visiting a doctor, rather than brushing off your accident as nothing. This way, if your injuries get more serious later, you can follow up with your doctor.
Slips and Falls – Inside Vs. Outside
Slip and fall accidents can happen inside or outside. No matter where the accident occurs, any potential legal claim will typically be based on a theory of negligence or premises liability. This means the property owner has a duty to maintain the premises and keep them safe for visitors, and the failure to perform this duty might result in liability for injuries resulting from dangerous conditions.
With premises liability cases, the property owner is typically only liable for the areas of the property that they control. With indoor claims involving apartment complexes, for example, these generally include common areas like doorways and hallways. With outdoor claims, the owner is typically only liable for injuries that occur on the property that they own.
Streets and sidewalks are usually maintained by the local city government. However, there may be areas where part of the owner’s property is extending off into public areas. The courts analyze whether the property owner actually controlled the area where the incident happened. If your case happened on municipal grounds, it’s also important to note the differences in requirements between local and city governments. There are different requirements for filing your case if you are dealing with a municipality; there may be a strict deadline you must adhere to. Failure to file your case within the deadline could mean that you will lose your chance to file altogether. Your attorney will know what these deadlines are, and this is why it’s so important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney.
It can sometimes be hard to distinguish whether an area is public or private property. In these cases, a court will determine whether or not the site of your injury is privately owned. They will also look at whether the property owner should have done anything to prevent it. In general, it’s easier to find a property owner liable for an indoor slip and fall as opposed to an outdoor one. An experienced New York slip and fall attorney from Hach & Rose, LLP can help you hold the negligent parties accountable, no matter where the incident occurred.
Have you ever seen an icy sidewalk and wondered why the business or homeowner didn’t take care of it? They have an obligation to do so. Property owners are entitled to a “reasonable” amount of time to take care of snow and ice, so the timing matters. If, for example, you fell in the middle of a snowstorm, you may not have a case because the storm was still in progress. However, if you fall on ice because of improperly removed snow, that fall never should have happened and you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
There are many ways that snow and ice can build up due to an improperly maintained building. Ice or snow may accumulate on the roof, melt, and refreeze below on the sidewalk. Similarly, large parking lots can be a pain to keep clear, but if there are large, dangerous ice patches, they should be removed for everyone’s safety.
Additionally, many property owners do not take the proper care to make sure that snow and ice are removed thoroughly. Perhaps there is a path through the snow for passersby to use, but if the snow is not removed, it will eventually get packed down by foot traffic and is very likely to become icy and slippery. Many businesses also neglect to put down salt after shoveling the sidewalk or parking lot, causing the snow that falls afterward to turn into ice. Property owners have an obligation to provide a safe path, even in the winter.
A slip due to a weather condition may seem like a simple case to a layperson, but there are important intricacies regarding the weather that can make the difference between success and failure in your premises liability case. An experienced personal injury attorney will retain an expert, such as a meteorologist, to help them make their case and testify on your behalf.
Municipal Liability – 90-Day Notice of Claim Rule
Anyone who files a claim against New York State, or most local governments, must first file a Notice of Claim. In most cases, there is a strict deadline of 90 days that you must file your claim or forfeit any right to file. Failure to file on time may result in a dismissal of your case, no matter how viable it is. This notice of claim requirement applies to the City of New York, the New York City Transit Authority, the New York City Housing authority, or any other municipality outside of NYC.
New York allows a limited amount of time after an accident to file a slip, trip, and file lawsuit. The amount of time to take legal action typically ranges from 90 days to three years, depending on whether the slip, trip, and fall occurred on private or government property. If the City of New York, the New York City Transit Authority, the New York City Housing Authority, or another municipality outside of New York City was responsible for your injury, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident. If you do not meet the 90-day deadline, you will not be able to pursue the claim against the government. The statute of limitations for a non-municipal negligence case in New York is three years; for a municipal case the deadlines are generally much shorter.
Administrative Code, section 7-210
Section 7-210 of the New York City Administrative Code, commonly referred to as the New York City Sidewalk Law, was enacted to shift liability for sidewalk accidents from the City of New York to real property owners. The law states:
“a. It shall be the duty of the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including, but not limited to, the intersection quadrant for corner property, to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.
b. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the owner of real property abutting any sidewalk, including but not limited to the intersection quadrant for the corner property, shall be liable for any injury to property or personal injury, including death, proximately caused by the failure of such owner to maintain such sidewalk in a reasonably safe condition.”
While Administrative Code, section 7-210 applies to Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, there are also specific rules in all other municipalities throughout the state of New York that govern who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. Because it can be a complex situation to determine whether it is a municipality versus a private owner, you need an experienced lawyer to help ensure the liable parties are identified and held accountable for their negligence.
Prior Written Notice Law
With municipalities, there is a “prior written notice law” that essentially says the municipality must be notified of the defect that caused the accident in writing. The law requires that municipalities maintain their streets and highways in a reasonably safe condition for people who use them. According to the prior written notice requirement, which is codified in Section 7-210 of the New York City Administrative Code, anyone pursuing compensation for injuries resulting from a defective condition on “street, highway, bridge, wharf, culvert, sidewalk or crosswalk” in New York City must comply with the prior written notice requirement.
With any type of slip, trip, and fall accident, you have a concept of “notice.” There is actual notice, which means the defendant knew about the condition and should have done something about it, constructive notice (the defendant should have known about it), and created condition (the person within the control of the defendants did something to create the condition).
One of the first steps Hach & Rose, LLP takes when investigating a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk or other city property is to determine whether the defendant and/or responsible party had knowledge of the defect before the accident occurred. In some cases our attorneys find that people have already complained about a cracked, broken, sunken, or uneven sidewalk, and that the defendant failed to take action to repair it. However, even if we find the city did not have prior written notice, you may still have options for pursuing financial compensation.
You may have a claim against the private or commercial property owner whose property borders the section of the sidewalk where your accident occurred. Property owners generally have a duty to make sure their storefronts, entryways, and sidewalks are safe. If they fail to do so and a dangerous condition causes injury to someone, they may be held liable.
In cases such as these, it is not necessary for the property owner to have received a written notice of the defect. As long as the property owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition, they were under a duty to remedy it.
The Hach & Rose, LLP Attorneys Working for You
The experienced New York premises liability lawyers at Hach & Rose, LLP are committed to helping you receive compensation for your injuries. We will assist you through every step of the complex legal process. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights following your slip and fall, just as we have done for many other New Yorkers over the last two decades. Below are just some of the results we have achieved for our clients who were injured in trip and fall cases:
- $12,800,000 — jury verdict for security guard injured at defective premises.
- $3,500,000 — settlement for a teen who drowned in a motel pool.
- $3,200,000 — settlement for worker who tripped and fell.
- $2,250,000 — trip and fall injury resulting in RSD and the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.
- $1,900,000 — settlement for a guest injured in a diving accident at motel’s lake.
- $1,450,000 — Jury verdict obtained for a 60-year-old, self-employed woman who slipped and fell on water in a cafeteria while at a conference.
- $900,000 — Trip and fall injury resulting in RSD and the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator.
- $750,000 — obtained for a woman who injured her back following a slip and fall accident at work.
- $725,000 — settlement for a pedestrian who tripped on a broken sidewalk caused by nearby construction activities.
- $500,000 — For a man who tripped and fell on railroad property with an arm injury.
Contact a New York Slip, Trip, and Fall Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a slip, trip, and fall accident in New York, the committed legal team at Hach & Rose, LLP is ready to help you. Our skilled and compassionate attorneys have earned the trust of countless New York injury victims over the last two decades by helping them get results. We will thoroughly investigate your slip and fall accident and determine whether you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call now at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.