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Preventing Personal Injuries on Your Property

injury on property attorney

Owning a property comes with a great deal of responsibility. As you welcome people into your premises, you must be aware of the potential risks that could lead to an accident. As the property owner, you are responsible for the safety of anyone who steps onto your property, and it’s your legal duty to ensure that your property is always in a reasonably safe condition. Suppose someone is injured while on your property; you could be held liable in a premises liability case.

There are many ways to help prevent personal injuries on your property. Taking some simple precautions can create a safer environment for everyone and avoid the costly consequences of a premises liability lawsuit.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is the legal term for property owners’ responsibility to keep their premises safe. If an injury occurs on someone else’s property, the injured party might have a premises liability claim against the owner or the liable party.

Property owners generally owe visitors a duty of care to ensure that their property is free from dangerous conditions. This includes taking reasonable steps to prevent accidents and injuries from occurring on their property. They are also obliged to warn visitors of any potential dangers on the property that they cannot immediately repair.

Elements of a Premises Liability Claim

Three main elements must be present to bring a premises liability claim:

  1. The property owner owed the injured party a duty of care.
  2. The property owner violated the established duty of care.
  3. The breach of duty caused the injury.

If someone can prove all three elements, then a premises liability claim may be valid, and they may be able to recover damages for any injuries. That is why it is essential to schedule a free consultation with experienced New York premises liability attorneys to ensure a prompt and thorough investigation of the claim.

The Owner’s Responsibility

The property owner must take the necessary measures to ensure that accidents and injuries do not happen on their premises. If the property owner fails to do so, they have breached their duty of care and may be held liable for the accident or injury if the victim can prove that the property owner’s negligence led to the injury.

In New York, the property owner’s duty of care applies to all visitors, including invitees and licensees.

  • Invitees are people who are invited onto a commercial property for a specific purpose, such as customers at a store.
  • Licensees are people allowed on private property for their own convenience, such as guests at a party.
  • In contrast, trespassers are people who enter the property without permission, such as vandals or squatters.

Even though trespassers are not supposed to be on the property, property owners still have a duty to ensure they will not be injured while on the premises. For example, if an unlocked gate leads into a backyard pool, a trespasser could easily fall in and get hurt. The owner could be held liable for the trespasser’s injury, even though the trespasser was not supposed to be on the property.

Knowledge of the Danger

Property owners may have actual or constructive knowledge of any potentially dangerous conditions on their property.

Actual knowledge means that the property owner was aware of the dangerous condition. For example, a property owner saw a wet spot on the floor. Aside from personal observation, the owner may also be made aware by someone else of the existence of a dangerous condition. For example, employees have reported a busted pipe causing a puddle in the store.

Constructive knowledge, on the other hand, means that a property owner should have been aware of the apparent dangerous condition and it has existed long enough for the owner to observe and fix it. For example, the owner did not see a wet spot but should have known it was there because it had been raining for days and the floor was wet.

The property owner must be aware of any dangerous conditions on their premises. They are expected to take immediate action to repair any possible risk. If they cannot fix it right away, the property owner must at least warn visitors of the potential danger.

While it is unlikely that property owners will know about every possible danger on their premises, they are expected to take reasonable steps to inspect their property regularly to ensure that there are no potential hazards. They also must be prepared with a contingency plan in case of any foreseeable risks.

Open and Obvious Hazards

Some dangers on a property are so open and obvious that the property owner should have known about them. For example, if there is a large hole in the ground, it is evident that someone could fall in and be injured. In these cases, the property owner may still be held liable if they did not take reasonable steps to warn visitors or repair the hazard.

Who Can Be Held Responsible Under New York Premises Liability Law

In New York, more than one person may be the liable party for an injury that occurred on someone else’s property. They are as follows:

Private Property Owner

Private property owners have a legal duty to ensure that their property is safe for all visitors. This includes maintaining the property, repairing any hazards, and warning visitors of potential dangers. However, many negligent property owners fail to uphold their duty of care. If victims can prove that the property owner caused the premises liability accident, then they may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

Business Owner

Commercial building owners have a higher duty of care to their customers than private property owners have to their guests. This is because commercial property owners are typically in the business of making money while private property owners are not. As a result, commercial property owners are expected to take extra measures to ensure their premises are safe for visitors, customers, and employees.

Government Entities

Government entities, such as the New York State or New York City, also have a duty to maintain public property at a reasonably safe level. However, government entities are typically only held liable if they were aware of the dangerous condition and did not take steps to fix it or warn visitors.

Third-Party

In some cases, a third-party contractor may be held liable for an injury that occurred on someone else’s property. For example, if a company hires a cleaning service to clean their office, and the cleaning service leaves a wet floor without putting up a warning sign, the cleaning company may be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.

How To Prevent Personal Injuries on Your Property

The premises owner has the legal responsibility to guarantee that their property is safe for all people who use it. There are a few things you can do to prevent personal injuries on your property:

Always Keep an Eye Out for Potential Hazards

Make your property safe for all visitors by frequently checking the premises for potential and new hazards. It’s essential to always be aware of potential dangers on your property, no matter how big or small.

Personal injuries on your property can also be prevented by anticipating risks. This allows you to take necessary precautions to avoid any accidents from happening and be ready for any emergencies that may occur.

Regular Maintenance and Repair

You can often prevent personal injuries by regularly maintaining and repairing your property. This includes fixing any broken stairs, loose handrails, or cracked sidewalks. You should also ensure that all electrical wiring and outlets are up-to-date and safe to use.

Negligent maintenance and repair can often lead to premises liability accidents and personal injuries. For example, if a property owner neglects to fix a loose handrail and someone falls down the stairs as a result, the property owner can be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

Checking for Uneven Surfaces

One of the most common hazards on a property is an uneven surface, which can be anything from a cracked sidewalk to a hole in the ground.

Uneven surfaces can cause trip and fall accidents, leading to serious injuries. If you have an uneven surface on your property, it is crucial to repair it immediately. It would help to set up a warning sign to alert visitors of the potential hazard.

Provide Adequate Lighting

Another way to prevent personal injuries on your property is by providing adequate lighting, which is especially important at night or in areas with little natural light.

Poor lighting can lead to slip and fall accidents and other types of accidents. For example, a car accident could occur if a property owner does not provide enough lighting in their parking lot.

Establish Warning Signs or Inform Guests

If there are any potential hazards on your property, it is vital to establish warning signs. This will alert visitors of the danger and help prevent any accidents from happening. These warning signs should be placed in a visible location where they can be easily seen. They should also be put up in strategic locations so that they will be effective in preventing accidents.

Sometimes, it may not be possible to put up a warning sign. In these cases, informing guests of the potential hazard is crucial. For example, if there is a hole in the ground, you should tell guests to watch out for it. Scheduling periodic announcements and alerts blasted through loudspeakers can also effectively inform guests of potential property hazards.

Maintaining Safety at the Pool

If a swimming pool is on your property, it is vital to take extra measures to prevent accidents. This includes maintaining the water quality, having proper safety equipment, posting warning signs, putting up a fence around the pool, and installing a safety cover.

There should be a lifeguard on duty when the pool is open. It is crucial to ensure that someone is always responsible for supervising the pool area, especially for children.

A phone and first-aid kit should also be near the pool in an emergency. And all visitors must know the rules of the pool and understand the dangers of swimming without supervision.

Be Extra Careful When There Is Snow or Ice

Snow and ice can create slip and fall hazards on your property. If your property is located in an area where it often snows, you must take extra precautions to prevent accidents. This includes clearing the sidewalks and parking lot, putting up warning signs, and using salt or sand to provide traction. It is also vital to inform guests of the potential hazards to take the necessary precautions.

By taking these simple steps, you can help prevent accidents and personal injuries on your property. Being proactive and informed can create a safer environment for everyone.

Different Types of Premises Liability Cases

There are many different types of premises liability cases. The most common types include:

Slip and Fall Cases

The most common type of a premises liability case is a slip and fall accident, which occurs when the victim slips, trips, or falls on the property owner’s premises. These accidents can happen anywhere but are most common in grocery stores, parking lots, and sidewalks.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Another common type of premises liability case is a swimming pool accident. Accidents like slipping because of wet floors, diving into shallow water, getting hit by a pool toy, and drowning can all happen in swimming pools. These accidents can occur when there is inadequate supervision, poor maintenance, code violations, or defective equipment.

Inadequate Security Cases

In some cases, people have been injured because of inadequate security. This can happen when there is a lack of security guards, lighting, or cameras in a parking garage, apartment complex, or office building. It can also occur when there are not enough security measures in place to protect people from violence.

Fire, Explosions, and Electrocution Cases

Fire, explosions, and electrocutions can also occur on another person’s property, which could happen because of defective wiring, faulty appliances, exposed flammable materials, or careless smoking.

Construction Accidents

Construction accidents often lead to premises liability cases. Construction sites are full of potential hazards, and accidents can happen when there is inadequate safety equipment, faulty machinery, poor maintenance, or code violations.

Elevator and Escalator Accidents

Elevators and escalators also pose serious safety risks. These accidents can happen when inadequate maintenance, defective equipment, or code violations occur. They can also happen when people are not careful when using these machines.

Amusement Park Accidents

Amusement parks are another common place for severe injuries to occur. These accidents can happen because of defective rides, inadequate supervision, negligent maintenance, or careless operation. They can also occur when people do not follow the safety rules.

Accidents can happen anywhere, but some places are more dangerous than others. If you own a business or property, it is crucial to take steps to prevent accidents and injuries. By being aware of the potential hazards and taking the necessary precautions, you can help keep your property free from danger for everyone.

Understanding the State’s Shared Responsibility Law

In New York City, property owners have a “shared responsibility” to keep their property safe for visitors. This means that property owners are responsible for maintaining their property and warning visitors of any potential hazards. If property owners fail to do this, they can be held liable for any accidents or injuries on their property.

New York law follows a comparative fault system. This means that visitors are expected to take reasonable care to avoid injuries. If a visitor is injured because of their own negligence, their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault.

The shared responsibility law applies to all types of property, including:

  • Residential property: This includes apartments, houses, condos, and co-ops.
  • Commercial property: This includes office buildings, shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels.
  • Industrial property: This includes factories, warehouses, and construction sites.
  • Public property: This includes parks, playgrounds, and government buildings.

If you are a property owner in New York City, it’s crucial to understand shared responsibility law. By taking steps to ensure the safety of your property, you can help prevent accidents and injuries. If an accident does occur, you may be able to avoid liability by showing that you took reasonable steps to prevent it.

Statute of Limitation for Premises Liability Claims

In New York, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of your personal injury to file a premises liability lawsuit. If you do not file within this time frame, the court will likely bar you from making any premises liability claims.

The statute of limitations can be complex, so you must speak with an experienced attorney if you have been injured on another person’s property. An attorney can help you understand the law and ensure that your claim is filed promptly.

Recoverable Damages in Premises Liability Cases

If the victim proved that the negligent property owner was the responsible party for the personal injury, the victim might be able to recover damages. These damages can include:

  • Medical expenses: This can consist of the cost of medical bills, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, physical therapy, and any other medical treatment related to the injury.
  • Lost wages: If the victim is unable to work because of their injuries, they may be able to recover their lost wages. This can include the wages they would have earned if they had not been injured and any future lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: The victim may be able to recover damages for the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the injury.
  • Emotional and Mental Distress: The victim may be able to recover damages for any emotional and mental distress caused by the injury. This can include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: The victim may be able to recover damages for the loss of enjoyment of life caused by the injury.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the negligent party and deter future negligence.

Prevention Is Better Than a Lawsuit

The best way to avoid liability for personal injury and premises liability is to prevent accidents and injuries from happening on your property. Consulting with an expert “injury on property” attorney can help you understand what you need to do to keep your property safe. And, if an accident does occur, an experienced premises liability attorney can help you defend against any premises liability claims.

At the Pagan Law Firm, we offer free consultations to property owners in New York City. We have a team of expert NYC premises liability attorneys with extensive experience handling premises liability cases. We will review your property and advise you on preventing accidents and injuries. If you have already been sued for premises liability, we will aggressively defend your rights. Contact us to schedule your free consultation today.