Understanding Premises Liability Claims in New York

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Premises liability is a wide range of the law that covers many common things our attorneys in New York see on a daily basis, such as slip-and-falls and other types of personal injury accidents caused by a property owner failing to maintain their property efficiently.

It's critically important for all New York residents, landlords, and business owners to understand the laws surrounding premises liability.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is used to define a legal concept that commonly comes into play in personal injury cases when an injury is caused by any type of unsafe, unmaintained, or defective condition on someone else's property.

In order to win a premises liability case, the person who was hurt has the responsibility of proving that the property owner was, in fact, negligent in terms of their ownership and/or maintenance of the property. In these cases, negligence means the property owner failed to reasonably care for their property.

Just because you were injured on someone else's property does not automatically mean the property owner was negligent and that you have a premises liability case on your hands. Remember, it is the responsibility of the injured party to prove the owner willfully neglected to care for the property, which directly caused the unsafe condition that caused the injury.

Common Types Of Premises Liability Claims

The most commonly filed premises liability claims include:

Slip And Fall

Slip and fall accidents can — and do — happen anywhere, from retail stores to city parks and streets, restaurants, hotels, and on private property. Things that commonly lead to these types of accidents and injuries include:

  • Slick, broken, or otherwise unreliable flooring
  • Slippery surfaces caused by leaking pipes
  • Unstable/broken furniture
  • Wet flooring
  • Defective stairs, railings, and grab bars
  • Construction hazards with no warning/advertising
  • Poor lighting
  • Icy, damaged, or uneven sidewalks
  • Bathrooms that are hard to reach

Dog Bites And Animal Attacks

Animal attacks can be extremely damaging and traumatic for all parties involved — the victim, their family, the animal's owner, and any witnesses.

If nothing or nobody incited the animal bite or attack, the dog owner will likely be held liable for the incident. Sometimes, even if the dog was provoked, the owner is still held accountable.

Snow And Ice Accidents

New York laws surrounding snow and ice removal are quite ambiguous, and there's no state building code that requires businesses to clear all snow off their property. The only requirement is that businesses clear the snow from their steps and walkways that lead to entrances, meaning they are not required to remove snow and ice from parking lots and sidewalks.

Because of the ambiguity in the law, property managers may remove snow and ice negligently, exposing residents, customers, and the general public to the risk of injury.

Roadway Neglect And Negligent Road Design

The government has the responsibility to keep roads safe for the public. At the national, state, and county levels, government agencies are tasked with maintaining roads and guaranteeing that the roadway, guardrails, road signs, and rights of way are in good condition.

Highway engineers are responsible for building safe roads that will not create hazardous driving situations.

Some of the most common road conditions that reveal negligence include:

  • Improperly timed traffic lights
  • Tiny shoulder lanes
  • Traffic light malfunctions
  • Poor drainage design that allows large pools of water to form on roadways
  • Trees or other forms of vegetation that are too close to the road/block visibility for cars turning
  • Roads that are not adequately snowplowed or de-iced
  • Obscure, damaged, unreadable, or non-existent road signs
  • Large potholes left unfilled
  • Steep slopes
  • Abrupt curves
  • Unmaintained/not continuous guardrails

Defective Escalators Or Elevators

Some of the factors that lead to escalator and elevator defects include improper installation and maintenance, failed safety inspections, failing to employ safety guards, and allowing the equipment to fall into disrepair.

In these cases, property owners can be held liable for any injuries sustained on the equipment on their property.

Inadequate Lighting

New Yorkers know all too well about the state's problem with inadequate lighting. Whether it's misplaced or broken light fixtures, poor light bulbs, or a lack of light in hallways, alleyways, and stairwells, bad lighting can cause trips, falls, and other accidents.

Negligent Security

Building owners can be found negligent if they fail to properly secure the property — for example, if they fail to install proper locks, surveillance cameras, or any other steps to deter intruders.

Property owners, business owners, and landlords are responsible for keeping their tenants and customers safe. The following are examples of a negligent security claim:

  • Intruders entered the building because of insufficient lighting or alarm systems
  • An unsatisfactory fence
  • Broken security cameras
  • Incompetent or scarce security guards
  • Deficient locks

Swimming Pool Accidents

According to the CDC, the United States sees nearly 4,000 fatal drownings per year. Public pool and water park operators, as well as owners of private pools, are all responsible for ensuring the safety of their visitors. Drowning and near-drowning, slip and falls and diving accidents are all risks associated with swimming. It's critically important that pool owners take the appropriate measures to secure their pools and prevent drownings.

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We Can Help

If you believe you have ground for a premises liability claim in New York, reach out to us today. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to help you build a strong case. Contact us to learn more.


Allan J. Ahearne, Jr


Dedicated NYC & Hudson Valley lawyer Allan J. Ahearne, Jr. builds trust with clients. Known for creative problem-solving, he specializes in personal injury cases, commercial litigation, and corporate disputes. Ahearne's integrity, professionalism, and results make him a trusted advocate

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