A New York appellate court recently issued an opinion addressing contractor liability for defects resulting in a slip-and-fall. Generally, New York slip-and-falls fall under premises liability theories of negligence. Although slip-and-fall cases might seem straightforward, each case is unique and successful recovery depends on the property owner’s status and circumstances surrounding the fall. Common defendants in New York slip-and-fall cases are property owners, government or city entities, and construction or contracting companies.
Property owners maintain the duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. These duties include removing snow and ice from their property, ensuring that their stairs and elevators work properly, and securing their property from foreseeable criminal activities. However, reasonableness can be relative, and injury victims must prepare a compelling and legally sound case. Courts will look to various factors when determining whether a property owner’s conduct was reasonable. Some considerations include how long the defective or unsafe condition existed, and the amount of time the owner had to address the hazardous condition. Moreover, defendants will often impute fault on the victim, and plaintiffs must be able to address any contributory negligence claims.
In certain situations, the city may hold full responsibility for a slip-and-fall accident, such as when the accident:
- Occurred on a public area or property;
- The city failed to maintain the area up to appropriate standards;
- The area was not marked for repairs; or
- Connects a family home occupied by the property owner for residential purposes.
Even if a plaintiff can prove that the city maintains responsibility, various procedural and statutory rules may limit the time a person has to file a lawsuit and a cap on the number of damages they may recover.
In some cases, another entity may be responsible for the accident, even if it occurred on a public sidewalk. For instance, in the case above, the plaintiff brought a lawsuit against an electric company for injuries she suffered from a sidewalk defect. Under the law, a contractor may be liable if they created a dangerous condition on a sidewalk or public street. In this case, the electric company moved for summary judgment, arguing that they did not perform work in the area of the defect.
In response, the plaintiff argued that the contractor or another defendant must have created the hazardous condition, but she did not provide evidence to support her claim. She also argued that the electric company’s deposition was inadmissible because she could not cross-examine them. However, the plaintiff did not seek relief after the court-ordered deposition. Therefore, the court affirmed the defendant’s summary judgment because the plaintiff did not meet their burden.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a New York Slip-and-Fall?
If you or someone you know suffered severe injuries in a New York slip-and-fall accident, contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel. The attorneys at our law firm understand the importance of abiding by New York’s strict procedural and statutory rules concerning personal injury lawsuits. We use this knowledge to ensure that our clients’ claims receive the care and attention they deserve. Our attorneys have successfully represented clients in New York injury cases stemming from construction accidents, slip-and-falls, medical negligence, and more. Contact our office at 914-428-7386 to discuss your rights to compensation.