All over the Bronx, people find themselves injured on other people's properties—slipping and falling by hotel swimming pools or grocery store aisles, getting mugged in parking lots with inadequate security, getting hurt in elevator or escalator accidents, finding themselves attacked by dogs. These events can leave you seriously hurt, with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
If this happened to you, you could pursue compensation for your expenses and the impact that your injury has had on your life through a premises liability lawsuit.
This type of case can be complex. It can be crucial that you find an attorney who has experience in premises liability accidents. Additionally, if the injury happened at a park or on a sidewalk, the source of liability in this type of case may be a public agency, so you will need to find an attorney with experience in the process of filing a Bronx premises liability claim against the government. The Bronx premises liability attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can help, and we look forward to discussing your legal options with you. Contact us for a free case evaluation.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is the legal responsibility of the owner or manager of a public, commercial, or residential property to ensure that the property is free of hazards that can cause injuries to guests. Failing to do so results in the right of the injured guest to pursue compensation from the property owner. In New York, property owners owe what is known as a "duty of care" to travelers who use their services. The duty of care refers to the way that most reasonable individuals or entities would respond in the same set of circumstances.
Three types of guests can visit a property, and the duty of care owed to each differs:
- Invitees: Invitees are individuals who have been invited to a property to conduct business. This is the type of guest that shoppers at retail stores or diners at local eateries are. This includes visitors to public properties. Even if the owner or manager did not necessarily issue a specific invitation to the passenger or customer, an invitation was applied by the business's operating hours that indicated members of the public were welcome. The highest duty of care is owed to this type of visitor, including regular inspections of the property to look for potential hazards, the prompt mitigation of any known hazards, and prominently placed warning signs to alert the visitor of potential dangers.
- Licensees: This type of visitor was not necessarily invited by the property owner or manager, but the property owner or manager was aware of his or her presence on the property and has allowed it. Property owners owe licensees the duty of care of repairing known issues and posting warning signs near hazardous property features.
- Trespassers: Trespassers are visitors who have not been invited and who are on the property without the owner's knowledge. An example of this type would be a mugger or rapist targeting people in a parking lot. Property owners have no duty of care for trespassers beyond not setting traps to deliberately wound trespassers. They do, however, have a duty of care to their victims.
Premises liability cases fall under the wide umbrella of personal injury law, with claims being filed in civil court. A Bronx premises liability claim seeks not only to prove liability for the accident that caused the injury, but also to prove the damages that the visitor incurred as the result of the unsafe property condition.
Examples of Premises Liability in the Bronx
A property owner can owe you compensation for:
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall—or trip and fall—accidents are the most common source of premises liability claims. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, falls account for over 8 million visits to U.S. emergency departments each year and about 12 percent of all falls are the result of slipping.
Some of the hazards associated with slip/trip and fall accidents include:
- Icy sidewalks.
- Cracked sidewalks or potholes in parking lots.
- Wet flooring.
- Broken floor tile. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that floors and flooring materials cause 2 million slip and fall injuries each year.
- Loose or missing handrails.
- Debris or obstacles in the walkway.
- Poor lighting, particularly in stairwells.
- Wet or cracked steps or broken railings.
Property owners must prevent crime on their properties. Some common provisions include security personnel and patrols in outside areas; security cameras; metal detectors; and specialized training for employees on security measures.
Common carriers or organizations tasked with managing the property must ensure that elevators and escalators on the premises are in proper, working order and free of malfunctions that can cause injuries to users of the station. Failure to do so can result in serious injuries or even deaths resulting from falls off the escalator, clothing entangled in the moving parts of the escalator, malfunctions that can cause an elevator to drop suddenly or the door to close while a person's body or belongings are not yet inside the apparatus.
Fires are a hazard for guests, with common causes of fires injuries including:
- Lack of maintenance. Damaged electrical wiring; old stoves, ovens, and other cooking appliances; dirty grease traps, malfunctioning hot water heaters—routine maintenance can catch and correct all of these issues.
- Failure to provide fire suppression and fire monitoring systems. Unfortunately, if a fire breaks out, the occupants may not see the flames or smoke. There are many types of fire suppression and monitoring systems available, and property owners need to install and maintain these safety devices—including by making sure that the fire extinguishers are fully charged and that the smoke detectors and sprinkler systems work.
- Lack of proper emergency training. Many employees do not receive adequate training in the proper procedures for dealing with a fire emergency. Employees know how, where, and when to safely evacuate the building.
- Smoking, candles, fireplaces, and other open flames are other sources of fire injuries. Places that illegally allow them can find themselves liable. Those that can legally allow them have a duty to their patrons to ensure their safe use.
Who Is Responsible for Your Bronx Premises Liability Injuries?
Some several individuals or entities could be liable for the injuries you suffered as the result of a premises liability accident.
Some of those may include:
- The person or entity who operates the business, who has the responsibility to protect you and safety run the store, apartment, hotel, or other establishment. They must keep the property free from hazards that could cause you physical harm, to provide security, and to train employees to do their jobs safely and to prevent you from encountering dangers. In some cases, that entity can be a school district or a city or regional governmental agency tasked with operating the public transportation system.
- The owner of the building, if different from the business owner, who has a responsibility to lease or rent to those who will safely occupy the property.
- The manufacturer of any appliance, including elevators or escalators, as manufacturers and distributors have the responsibility to ensure that the products they create and sell are safe for consumers when used and maintained properly.
- The individual or entity responsible for properly maintaining, cleaning, and repairing the property.
- Other customers, whose behavior and criminal intent—if left unchecked—can pose hazards to you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bronx Premises Liability Claims
Injuries that are incurred on other people's properties make for complex legal cases in which there are several potential sources of liability and the need for your attorney to do a lot of investigative legwork. It is the type of case that invites a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of the questions our Bronx clients ask most often about premises liability. For more specific information about your legal options, contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today.
How do I prove liability in a Bronx premises liability case?
To show that a property owner or renter is liable in a premises liability case, you must show:
- You were lawfully on the property.
- The property owner was negligent in repairing or remedying a dangerous property condition that he or she knew about or reasonably should have known about and did not provide a warning of the dangerous condition to guests.
- The negligence of this individual or entity resulted in you becoming injured by the dangerous property condition.
What sort of evidence is needed to prove a Bronx premises liability case?
In a premises liability case, your attorney would want to review evidence to determine liability. If your injury occurred due to a dangerous condition on the property, evidence would likely include photos of the property hazard and photos of your injuries. Your attorney would want to see the complaint you filed with the owner when the accident occurred and any correspondence you had with them since then. Your attorney would also want to hear the testimony of witnesses.
To prove your expenses, you would want to have copies of medical bills, proof of lost wages due to missing work, and documentation of other expenses. Your attorney would want to speak with your doctors to determine your prognosis and the likelihood of future medical treatment for the injury. Your attorney would discuss with you the specific documentation needed in your case.
What responsibility do Bronx property owners have in premises liability cases?
Owners have the responsibility to visually inspect properties known safety hazards. Stores, for example, must keep the aisles clean to prevent slip/trip and fall hazards. In addition, employees report and know how to deal with emergencies.
What are some of the defenses used in Bronx premises liability cases?
At-fault parties and their insurance carriers try to avoid compensating injured individuals.
Some of those defenses include:
- The open and obvious doctrine. While this defense has had mixed results in courtrooms in New York, the open and obvious doctrine states that a property owner is not liable for injuries caused to a visitor if the hazard was open and obvious.
- The plaintiff was responsible for his or her own injury. This is a common defense in premises liability cases, in which the third party insurance company asserts that the accident was the fault of the injured person due to specific circumstances of the case. For example, the passenger tripped because his or her shoes were untied or his or her clothing became entangled in the escalator because it was loose and fabric was hanging down near the mechanical parts of the apparatus.
- The owner/manager/renter did not know about the dangerous condition. Remember that part of the process of proving that someone is legally responsible for the injury you incurred in a premises liability case, you must show that they either knew or had reason to know that the dangerous condition existed. An example of the type of case in which this defense might be used would be one involving a passenger slipping and falling on debris that was spilled by another customer since the last time the business performed a routine inspection of the property for dangerous conditions. The argument would be that the owner was not responsible for the accident because they did not know that there was debris on the floor and therefore couldn't clean it up before the customer slipped and became injured.
What can affect my ability to recover damages after a Bronx premises liability accident?
Several factors could affect the value of your case, including:
- The clarity of liability. In New York, even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injury, you can still file a lawsuit against other at-fault parties. However, the amount you are eligible to recover will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you bear.
- The evidence you have. Is there evidence to prove that the carrier or driver knew or should have known that a hazard existed? Are there witnesses who can corroborate your version of the events? Did you make the carrier aware of the injury you incurred and the hazard that caused it? Are there bills and other documentation that can prove your expenses? Your attorney will make you aware of the types of evidence needed to prove your claim.
- Your age, level of pay, and overall health at the time of your injury. Age and level of pay can impact various damage categories, such as lost wages and loss of future earning capacity. Your overall health at the time of the accident factors into your case's value as pre-existing conditions often give rise to claims by the defense that your pain did not result from the injury but your pre-existing condition.
- Your patience in waiting for a fair settlement. Those injured in premises liability cases often receive a settlement offer very early into the recovery process. This initial offer may be far lower than what is needed to cover your injury-related expenses and the impacts that your injury has placed in your life, but would be offered by the third-party insurance carrier as a simple way to resolve the case quickly. The problem with this is that once you settle a claim, you can't go back and ask for more money if you find the settlement was not enough. Allowing your attorney the time to negotiate a settlement based on the valuation of your case can often lead to a fairer settlement.
What can an attorney do to help with my Bronx premises liability case?
Bronx premises liability cases have several layers of complexity, including the likelihood of a government-owned transportation authority being involved and requiring a slightly different claims process, the increased amount of possible evidence that accompanies cases where multiple parties can face liability for the accident that occurred, and the need to prove that the carrier knew or had reason to know that the hazard existed. With all of these different layers, hire an attorney to guide you through the process of recovering compensation.
Some of the services your attorney could provide include:
- A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you.
- A valuation of your case based on the expenses and impacts you have incurred as a result of your injury and those you will likely incur in the future.
- Timely filing of all court-required paperwork in the proper jurisdiction.
- Skilled negotiation with the at-fault party's insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a fair settlement offer for you.
- Gathering and organizing the evidence and witness testimony needed to prove your case.
- Attendance on your behalf at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
- Litigation, including the delivery of opening and closing statements, the presentation of evidence, and the examination of witnesses.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or court award.
- Further representation if the defendant in your case chooses to file an appeal.
What if I cannot afford a Bronx premises liability attorney?
Our Bronx personal injury attorneys provide two special services to their clients to ensure that everyone who needs an attorney to help them recover damages related to their attorney can obtain one without an upfront cost.
Those services include:
- A free case evaluation: This no-obligation conversation between you and a premises liability attorney from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is an opportunity for you to obtain answers to legal questions specific to your case, to share information about your case with the attorney, and to learn more about how the attorney can help you.
- Contingent fee payment: A contingent fee payment scheme means that your lawyer will generally not charge you for his or her services until there is an outcome to your case.
Call Our Bronx Premises Liability Lawyers Right Away
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Bronx, NY 10461
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