If you fall due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property , then you may be entitled to compensation for injuries that you sustained. In New York, the law is very clear that the victim of a fall caused by a dangerous condition may seek compensation from the responsible party. However, New York law also provides various defenses and requires the injured party to meet certain criteria before he or she may prevail.
Find Out Who Owns The Property
Basically, anyone who owns, possesses, or maintains property must keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. The property must be kept reasonably safe from and dangerous or defective conditions that may cause someone lawfully entering the premises to slip, fall and injure themself. However, the owner of the property will only be responsible for the injuries caused by the dangerous condition if he or she (i) created the dangerous condition, (ii) had actual notice of the condition, or (iii) had constructive notice of the condition.
If the owner of the property created the dangerous condition that caused you to slip and fall, then he or she will be held responsible for your injuries. An example of this might be when a property owner installs a staircase without a handrail, creating a dangerous condition that could lead someone to slip on the staircase without a means of protecting themself. Another example would be when a utility company performs roadwork, drilling into the pavement, and leaves large potholes or divots in the pavement causing you to slip and fall. In both examples, the injured party may be able to prove that the property owner and utility company created the respective conditions.
If the owner of the property had actual notice of the dangerous condition that caused you to slip and fall, then he or she will also be held responsible for your injuries. Actual notice refers to the responsible party having knowledge of the dangerous condition because he or she was notified in writing or orally.
This category typically applies when dealing with municipalities (towns, counties, villages, etc.). Most municipalities are protected by local laws requiring certain departments to receive “prior written notice” before being sued for a dangerous condition.
Other Important Information
For example, if you slip and fall on snow or ice on a public roadway, then you may have to demonstrate that the municipality that owns the roadway received prior written notice of the snow or ice before you were injured. This is when a skilled attorney could really help you navigate a delicate legal issue vital to your case. There are certain ways around this strict requirement. Gulotta & Gulotta, PLLC has dealt with this issue countless times and defeated many municipalities that have moved to dismiss our clients’ cases. After successfully thwarting these attempts, we have negotiated high financial awards for our clients, despite the high risk of their cases ending without any compensation.
An example of a private owner being held liable after receiving actual notice of a dangerous condition is when a restaurant employee was told about water spilling onto the floor before another person slipped and fell that puddle. In that case, the restaurant may be charged with actual notice of the dangerous water condition that caused the fall. If someone notifies an apartment complex of a dangerous snow or ice condition on the property, and that condition later causes someone else to fall, then the apartment complex and/or management company may be held responsible for the injuries sustained.
If a property owner has constructive notice of a dangerous condition on the property, he or she may also be held responsible for your injuries. Constructive notice applies when the dangerous condition existed for a sufficient length of time before a slip and fall occurred to allow the property owner time to discover and correct it. Essentially, the property owner may not have actually known about the dangerous condition but he or she should have known about it. One example is when a slip and fall occurred due to a stair that had been loose for a long enough period of time such that the property owner should have been aware of it. A leaking gutter that causes a puddle of ice to form may also lead to constructive notice, making the property owner liable for anyone injured by that puddle.
Take photographs of the condition that caused you to fall. These could be helpful when attempting to prove constructive notice. A photograph of the condition may be used as proof that the condition existed for a sufficiently long enough period of time to charge the property owner with constructive notice. Fill out any accident reports and keep a copy. If the area where you fell is under video surveillance, make a written request that the videotapes be preserved and keep a copy of that request. As your attorney, we would be happy to send such a written request on your behalf as well. Take the names and contact information of any witnesses present.
A slip & fall in New York is a complex legal issue. The facts involved are very sensitive and the applicable laws are intricate. Contact an attorney immediately to receive an opinion about your case. Gulotta & Gulotta, PLLC has valuable experience and knowledge regarding slip & fall cases. We would be happy to offer you a FREE CONSULTATION and steer you in the right direction. There are many long term and short term considerations for you to consider, let us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on your recovery.