The law requires that property owners and landlords maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. When they fail to do so, people can get seriously injured or even killed. Premises liability is an area of law that allows personal injury victims to hold owners liable for accidents that are caused by an unsafe condition on their property.
No one should have to worry that they’ll get hurt visiting a commercial establishment or private residence. But if you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, the premises liability attorneys of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. are ready to advocate for you.
What Is Premises Liability?
This legal doctrine concerns the obligation of property owners to keep their properties safe for guests and visitors. That means taking reasonable steps to remove any dangers on the property or provide an adequate warning of any hazards. Poor property maintenance or refusal to warn could result in someone being injured or killed, giving rise to a legal claim.
Premises liability applies to a number of different commercial and residential properties, from businesses to private homes. Grocery and retail stores, hotels, restaurants, offices, apartment complexes, and many other types of businesses and landowners owe a duty to keep visitors safe. These are some examples of premises liability cases:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Defective staircases
- Broken, raised or depressed sidewalks and walkways
- Structural collapses including ceilings, decks and floors.
- Malfunctioning elevators and escalators
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Unattended construction equipment
- Falling objects
- Negligent security
- Missing or non-functioning locks, lights or personnel allowing entry of criminals
- Daycare and school accidents
The obligation to keep property safe is generally owed to people who are on the land or property or in the house, apartment building, store or office, including such outdoor places as loading docks and decks.
Why Do Accidents Happen?
Inadequate maintenance, owner neglect, or simply disregard for the condition of one’s property can render it dangerous. When pursuing a premises liability claim, an injury victim will need to specify the unsafe condition which caused harm. Some specific examples include:
- Uneven or broken sidewalks and walkways
- Holes and depressions on driveways
- Leaders or gutters directing water which freezes across a walkway
- Wires, hoses and railings placed across pedestrian paths
- Unmarked platforms or steps in parking lots, stores and office buildings
- Falling display cases, shelving or boxes
- Slick surfaces due to oil or grease
- Broken and uneven steps
- Missing, inadequate or broken handrails
- Loose rugs or flooring
- Vicious dogs that are not leashed
- Exposed electrical wiring
- Uncovered manholes on city streets
- Lack of fencing around a swimming pool
- Failure to post a warning sign near a hazard
Elements Of A New York Premises Liability Lawsuit
If someone is injured or killed due to a dangerous property condition, the victim or the victim’s family must prove the following in a premises liability lawsuit:
- The property was not in a reasonably safe condition.
- The owner knew, or reasonably should have known, of the unsafe condition but failed to correct it. Owners have a duty to conduct regular inspections of their property to identify and fix anything that could cause injury. But the law only protects against unreasonable property defects, not every conceivable danger that may exist. For instance, if a tree falls on someone’s lot during a blizzard, the law will allow a reasonable amount of time (e.g. once the storm passes) for the owner to find and remove the fallen tree. In some cases, the property owner’s duty may be to rope off a dangerous condition or provide visitors with a reasonable warning of it. As an example, a landowner with a lake on the property may need to post warning signs or fence the area off to keep potential visitors safe.
- The victim suffered an injury. Because of the owner’s negligence in correcting or warning of the danger, the victim could suffer serious injury or death. The victim may incur significant medical bills, lost time from work, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Proving Premises Liability
If you’ve been injured on someone’s property, time is of the essence. The dangerous condition may only be temporary. Or, once the owner realizes someone has been hurt, he or she may attempt to cover it up by fixing or removing the condition. The first step you should take, after seeking medical attention for your injuries, is to document whatever you can about the cause of your injury. Take pictures or record videos of the danger to preserve evidence,or contact us quickly so we can do so.
Next, collect your medical bills and other records related to your injuries. This documentation will be essential in proving the nature and extent of your damages later. Ask an attorney about the types of documents you may need.
You may be contacted by the property owner or the owner’s insurance company about the injury. Don’t speak with either until you’ve retained an attorney. The insurance company or owner may ask you questions or request a recorded statement. You could inadvertently say something that could be used against you later. Let your attorney handle communications with the owner and insurer.
Contact Our New York Premises Liability Attorney
Finally, be sure to retain a knowledgeable premises liability attorney. At Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C., we thoroughly investigate our clients’ injuries and work to win the compensation they need to recover. Contact our office to schedule your consultation.
Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. help clients with their premises liability claims throughout New York including Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, and Brooklyn.