Premises Liability Laws

Understanding Premises Liability Laws in New York

NTZ Editor

With a population of almost 8 million, living within 306 square miles, New York City is packed with people, many of whom live or work in buildings owned by other people. In many cases, those properties are well-maintained, safe, and secure. However, in just as many cases, there are properties that are dangerous to the health and safety of those who live there.

In that latter case, what happens if you’re injured on a property owned by someone else? Does the property owner have a legal obligation to pay your medical bills or cover your loss of income?

Here is what you need to know about New York premises liability claims.

What is Premises Liability Law?

A premises liability lawsuit can hold the New York property owner liable for any damage to persons or property while on the premises. Property owners are required to show reasonable effort to maintain a safe living or working environment for tenants, employees, or visitors. Failure to provide that safety creates a “premises” liability, either through negligence, neglect, or willful ignorance of conditions. If a person is on the property legally as a tenant, guest, or employee and the injury or property damage is caused by the owner’s negligence, then the injured party has the right to seek compensation through a premises liability claim.

What is Covered Under a Premises Liability Claim?

Before seeking out a New York premises liability attorney, ask yourself the following questions:

Was I on the property legally?

Do you work there, live there, or were you visiting someone who lives there? Proving the legal right to be on the property can be easy, especially if you have a signed lease agreement, an employment contract, or can prove you were invited to be on the property by someone with a legitimate reason for being on the premises. This means that those on the property illegally (an unknown trespasser, child trespassers, or those in designated off-limits areas) may not have the right to file a claim because the property owner cannot be held liable when they were unaware and unable to warn the trespassers of hazardous conditions.

Was my injury caused by an unsafe or dangerous condition?

Was the wiring faulty? Was the tile uneven? Was the dog improperly secured? Were warning signs missing or improperly labelled? Can you prove that the property owner has ignored obvious and potential dangers?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, contacting a premises liability lawyer to file your premises liability claim is your next step.

What Injuries are Covered by Premises Liability Laws?

Whether at home in your apartment, at someone’s house, or at work in a restaurant, you have the right to live, visit, and work in a reasonably safe condition. However, that isn’t always that case. Common situations that often lead to premises liability cases include:

  • Slip/trip and fall accidents
  • Dog bites/injuries
  • Swimming pool injuries
  • Improper/poorly trained security
  • Burns/Cuts/Broken Bones
  • Damage to personal property (vehicles, dwelling contents, etc…)

There are numerous other situations that may lead to a premises liability claim. It is critical to speak to a qualified attorney to learn your rights and responsibilities should you be injured on someone’s property.

What are the Claim Limitations?

One of the first questions liability lawyers will ask is if you can prove that the property owner was negligent. In the case of tenants in apartment buildings, tenants are responsible for the general upkeep and maintenance of their units, with the exception of latent defects (improperly installed flooring, improperly anchored cabinets, etc…), hidden damage, and poorly repaired or maintained “public” areas like the stairwell, lobby, parking lot, or laundry facility.

Comparative Fault in New York

New York premises liability laws follow the principle of “comparative fault”, which means that if the injured person cannot prove that the injury was caused at no fault of the landlord or owner, then they are not eligible to recover compensation for their injury. That means that if the injury was caused by something you broke, repaired poorly, or failed to property maintain, the property owner may not be liable.

However, if you can prove that the owner failed to act toward the safety of their tenant, workers, or property visitors, you may have a case and the chance at maximum compensation for the resulting injuries.

How do I File A Premises Liability Claim?

When you are on someone else’s property, you have the reasonable right to be safe from injury. The business owner or property owners have a legal duty to ensure they’ve made the premises safe. You should never have to wonder, “Is the property safe?” Being on someone’s property makes them responsible to protect visitors, and they should be held accountable for any injuries caused while you are on that property. You are putting your well-being in their hands, and when you suffer injuries because of unsafe conditions or hazardous conditions, the owner of the unsafe property must be held responsible.

Obtaining Documentation

To file a premises liability claim, the first step is to gather all the necessary evidence to help with your premises liability case. This is where your attorney is invaluable; your premises liability attorney will do most of the difficult leg work; obtaining the documentation from the hospital, insurance company, and law enforcement. If required, documents you can provide to help move things along faster will always be a benefit.

The documentation an attorney will obtain may include:

  • Records of safety reports showing consistent negligence by the property owners.
  • Witness statements from people who were there when the injury occurred or they have seen the unsafe condition that caused the injury.
  • Medical records that document the injuries sustained during the accident.
  • Photos of injuries/damage caused by accident.
  • Documentation showing proof of lost wages/loss of employment, or decrease in expected quality of life (bills, mortgage statements, etc…)
  • Insurance bills/statements
  • Any photographic or video evidence showing the specific unsafe/hazardous condition (unfenced pool, broken glass in the walkway, unchained dog, icy/slippery stairs, etc…).

Set up a free consultation with an experienced NYC premises liability lawyer, who will sit down with you to discuss your case, including whether or not you have the ability to file a premises liability claim based on your information and/or injuries. Your attorney will work directly with insurers, property owners, and law enforcement officials to document the incident, file paperwork with the court system, and provide legal advice to injury victims.

Because the laws differ from city to state and beyond, a lawyer is an essential part of the claims picture. With a premises liability attorney on your side, you can get the peace of mind you need to move forward.

Request a Free Consultation