In New York, it is possible to hold property owners responsible for an
injury caused by dangerous conditions on their premises. To do this, however,
the injured plaintiff must prove to the court that they were owed something
called "duty of care" from the property owner.
In the simplest terms, duty of care is the responsibility that property
owners legally owe to welcome visitors of their property to provide safe
conditions or warn them of possible hazards. In a personal residence,
this can constitute a "beware of dog" sign. In a commercial
property, this can be achieved with "do not enter" signs, or
hazard cones warning of a slippery floor.
Different "Types" of Visitors
Before bringing a premises claim against a property owner, you must first
determine what kind of visitor you were to the property. If you were considered
an invitee, who is someone who is specifically invited or encouraged to
enter a property, or a licensee, who is not invited, but allowed on the
property, you are probably owed some degree of duty of care from the property owner.
If you were a trespasser and were entering the premises illegally, chances
are you do not have the grounds to file suit against a property owner.
Children who trespass, however, may be owed duty of care if they entered
out of natural curiosity and the property owner did not take the appropriate
measures to keep children away from any hazards.
Proving Duty of Care
Once you have determined that you were a visitor that was owed duty of
care, then it is necessary to document the conditions that harmed you
and the property owner's neglect of the conditions that led to your
injury. Demonstrating this actually breaks down to presenting several
different pieces of information.
Proving duty of care requires:
- Establishing your status as a visitor who was owed duty of care
- Demonstrating that there were dangerous conditions on the premises
- Showing the owner knew, should have known, or reasonably addressed the
- Indicating that the conditions lead directly to your injury
Note "reasonably" in the conditions above, meaning if visitors
are suddenly exposed to dangerous conditions, the property owners must
be given a reasonable amount of time to address them. So if, for instance,
there is a beverage spill in a supermarket and someone slips and is hurt
while staff members run to get a mop, the owners may not be liable: they
were promptly responding to the dangerous conditions while someone was hurt.
Have more questions about your injury on someone else's property? Our
dedicated team of Long Island personal injury attorneys is ready to hear
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